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In the first volume of his History, Treitschke traces the later 
stages in the decay of the Holy Roman Empire of the Gennan 
Nation down to its final dissolution in 1806 at the bidding of 
Napoleon, with the eclipse of Prussia which coincided with it, 
and follows the fortunes of the War of Liberation to its vic- 
torious close in 1814, culminating in Nap)oleon's downfall, his 
abdication, Elba, and the first Peace of Paris. 

The second volume, after the interlude of a hundred days 
has been left behind, is mainly occupied with the beginnings of 
the Germanic Federation, which rose upon the ruins of the 
old Empire, and the efforts of the German p)eoples to find 
themselves again when the period of chaos and demoralisation 
was succeeded by one of order and reconstruction. All Europe, 
Princes and people alike, breathed again freely after 1814, and most 
relieved of all were those German Sovereigns who had bartered 
themselves into Napoleon's service, had taken their orders from 
him, marched under his banners, fought his battles against their 
own countrymen, and had been proud to receive their crowns 
and electors' hats at his hand. 

Now the German nation hoped to see its regained indepen- 
dence confirmed and assured by political unity. In the darkest 
hours of humiliation it had been cheered, and its heaviest 
sacrifices had been sweetened, by the thought that it was fight- 
ing not only to liberate Germany from foreign oppression, but 
to win for it unity, by ties stronger and more intimate than 
those which held together the old empire. Now that danger 
was over, it was to learn by bitter experience that it had been 
cherishing an illusion. Germany was not yet ready to become 
either an empire or a federal State, and even if it had been 
ready the rulers were not willing to forego any substantial part 
of their independence. Austria, above all, was bent on main- 
taining the old divisions under new sanctions, as the surest 
guarantee of its continued domination. 

By the Final Act of ^the Congress of Vienna (June 8, 
1815) the forty-one sovereign States were formed into a loose 


History of Germany 

association — it could not properly be called a union — with the 
name Deutscher Bund or Germanic Federation. With this 
arrangement the rulers were on the whole well contented ; but 
the nation at large received it with disappointment and disgust. 
But what else could have been expected ? The Congress of 
Vienna was exclusively an affair of the Princes and Governments. 
They only decreed, appointed and composed it, and only their 
interests and wishes had voice or hearing in its deliberations. 
It was a typical creation and expression of the old diplomacy, 
which yet continues to be the diplomacy of Europe to-day, more 
than a century later. In this august areopagus, in which the 
elect of the diplomatic world of Europe was assembled, — Blucher, 
fresh from the battle-field, where niceties of language are impos- 
sible, called it a " council of thrice-accursed constables and 
lazy-bones " — the German nation had no part or lot whatever, 
though its political destinies were being determined for generations 
to come ; it had no share in its deliberations ; its opinion was 
not once given, because it was never sought ; nowhere was the 
nation as such mentioned in the Act under which the new 
Federation was constituted. 

In a sense the Federation was not even the work of the 
Princes themselves ; they accepted it, but the idea was that of 
Mettemich, the powerful Austrian Chancellor, who presided over 
the Congress and bent it to his will, concerned only to divide 
the States, so that Austria might rule them, so maintaining in 
the new Germany the same paramount influence which it had 
held in the old. Austria was made the head of the Federation, 
but its position was now merely presidential, and conferred upon it 
no special powers or prerogatives. The time for a new German 
Emperor had not yet come, much as the ardent friends of 
national unity wished for the restoration of the ancient office 
and title. " Poor, faithful German nation," wrote Arndt in 
bitterness of soul, " thou art to have no Emperor ! Thy Princes 
wish themselves to play the Emperor. Instead of one lord, 
thou art to have two dozen (in point of fact, there were over 
three 'dozen) who will never be able to agree upon German 
questions." But that was just what Austria wanted. 

The Federal Act of June 8, 1815, defined the purpose of 
the Bund as " the maintenance of the external and internal 
security of Germany and the independence and inviolability of 
the several German States." Such a purpose was all-important, 
yet it did not require a wide range of functions, and the juris- 



diction assigned to the Bund was, indeed, very restricted. Its 
executive organ was the Federal Diet, which met and acted in 
two capacities, first as an inner council, forming which body its 
members exercised altogether seventeen votes, eleven States 
having one each, and the remaining States voting in six groups, 
one vote for each group ; and then — chiefly for the determina- 
tion of questions relating to organic changes in the composition 
of the Bund, its jurisdiction, the declaration of war and the 
conclusion of peace — as a plenary body (plenum), in which 
sixty-nine votes were disposable, one for each State as a mini- 
mum and the rest allotted in rough proportion to population, all 
the six kingdoms having four votes each. The Bund began its 
career handicapped by distrust and odium, and it lived up to its 
first reputation. For just fifty years it maintained a more or 
less impotent and futile existence, its Diet chiefly useful as a 
coward's castle from which the liberties of the people could be 
safely assailed, and as affording an arena in which Austria and 
Prussia were able to contend for the hegemony of Germany. 

By the Federal Act the allied Sovereigns reciprocally 
guaranteed each other's territories against attack from without 
or within. It was, perhaps, the most important provision in 
the Treaty, since the Congress of Vienna had introduced many 
and momentous changes in the map of Germany ; some States 
had lost and some had gained territory. Here Prussia was 
specially affected. The readjustment of its frontiers did not 
increase its area (though it increased its population) beyond that 
of 1805, before Napoleon, by the Peace of Tilsit, robbed Prussia 
of one-third of its territory ; for while it gained largely in the 
west, by additions on the Rhine, by the absorption of part of 
Saxony — Prussia wanted the whole, and would have got it but 
for the opposition of Austria, France, and England — and the greater 
part of Westphalia, it had to surrender a large slice of Poland. 
On the whole, therefore, Prussia became more German, while 
still remaining a mixed and somewhat incongruous State, made 
tup of divers races and civilisations, a basket of fragments 
gathered from all sides, out of which a unity could be made 
[only after long time and effort. 

Prussia had suffered more than any other part of Germany 
[in the long-drawn-out struggle from 1805 to 1815. Hence its 
^pressing need was internal reorganisation, for the purpose not 
merely of righting the evils done by the war, but, as far as 
^practicable, of assimilating the Ufe and institutions of the diverse 


History of Germany 

territories and populations which made up the rehabilitated 
kingdom. Here great results were achieved in a marvellously 
short time. During the second decade of the century, something 
was done to develop and extend local government and to unify 
law and justice ; national taxation was systematised ; a customs 
system was introduced which gave a frank recognition, unique 
in those days, to the principle of free trade, — in 1818 Huskisson 
in the English House of Commons spoke of the Prussian customs 
tariff as the most enlightened in Europe — and which, by means 
of successive treaties, was gradually to be extended to all 
Germany, A free course was given to the intellectual influences 
set loose by the searching ordeal through which the nation had 
passed ; new universities were established and existing ones 
reorganised — the University of Beriin dates from 1810, that of 
Bonn from 181 1, and that of Breslau in its present form from 
the same year, all three being founded when Prussia was still in 
the worst throes of the war — and with the more stringent 
application of the principle of compulsory education the founda- 
tions were laid of the modem system of primary and secondary 
schools. Simultaneously the military system was placed upon a 
basis which, in its main features, was to continue for a century, 
and to serve as the model for the res^t of Germany. 

In one thing the Prussian nation was doomed to bitter 
disappointment. It looked for political liberty, for a constitu- 
tion and a beginning in parliamentary life, but in vain. The 
nation imagined that after the war constitutional rights would 
fall into its lap like ripe fruit. Its devotion and sacrifice had 
been fed and fanned by the promise of them. The German 
Princes in the Manifesto of Kahsch in February, 1813, in appeal- 
ing to their peoples to make a supreme effort to crush the 
despot, held out the prospect of constitutions as the prize and 
the reward. On May 22, 1815, the Prussian King, yielding to 
pressure from his Chancellor Hardenberg, then still favourably 
disposed towards the constitutional movement, issued an 
ordinance in which he promised a national assembly developed 
from the provincial estates. The following month the whole 
of the German Princes signed their names to the Federal Act, 
Article 13 of which provided that " In all the federal 
States there shall be a constitutional representation of the 
Estates of the Realm." It was not said what sort of a represen- 
tation this was to be, or when it was to be given, but those 
were days of great hopes and of an inexhaustible confidence, and 



it occurred to few people to suspect that a pledge so solemnly 
made would not be honourably fulfilled. A rude awakening 
soon came. Metternich lost no time in letting it be understood 
that Austria had no idea of giving effect to Article 13 in 
any form whatever, and he used all his influence and all his 
wiles to prevent the rest of the States from doing so. 

It was left to Karl August of Weimar to set an example to 
the greater rulers of Germany of fidelity to plighted word, for 
he granted a constitution before a year had passed. Treitschke, 
in belittling this act, which was one of wisdom as much as of 
honour, scoffs, not generously, at the f)etty Court of Weimar 
and its large conceit of itself. Yet Weimar and the corner of 
Germany to which it belonged were a centre of culture, of 
sweetness and light, at a time when large parts of Prussia 
intellectually were still Uttle more than a waste, howhng wilderness, 
producing only crops of soldiers, serfs, and cabbage squires. 
Bavaria followed the example of Weimar a little later, and then 
after an interval came Wiirtemberg. Treitschke holds that the 
South German constitutions proved a strength and support of 
particularism. It is certain that the States of the South in 
which constitutions were first given gained thereby a superiority 
in political education and capacity which they have held ever 
since ; their peoples are to-day the freest in Germany ; and 
nowhere else in the empire are the relationships between rulers 
and ruled on the whole so intimate and harmonious. 

Prussia, governed by a King who never knew his own mind 
and a Minister who had not the courage to shake off Austrian 
influence, lagged behind while the smaller States went forward. 
By the ordinance of May 22, 1815, Frederick WilHam III 
promised at once a national representation, to be chosen by the 
provincial estates, which were to be restored where efficient. 

I Treitschke regrets that in issuing this ordinance he signed away 
his liberty to choose the right moment for action. But what 
did it matter, seeing that the promise was never to be fulfilled ? 
In the following month a commission, consisting of twenty-two 
members of the Council of State, was appointed to make a grand 
inquest of the nation. Instead of calling witnesses to Berlin, 
however, the King resolved that three Ministers should act as 
travelling commissioners, visiting the provinces, and collecting 
evidence on the spot, just as the Elector Joachim I had him- 
self done in 1525, when he was bent on reforming the system 
of local government. Their inquiries were confined almost 

History of Germany 

exclusively to the landed nobility, — in other words, to the 
representatives of existing conditions, and for the most part 
these men wanted no change ; the existing provincial diets were 
for them both satisfactory and sufficient. Only the Polish 
aristocracy recognised the need of a higher form of representa- 
tion, capable of reflecting the mind of the nation at large. 
All the work of the commissioners was wasted. No sooner had 
their reports been submitted than the King hardened his heart 
and decided not to grant a constitution at all. 

Later, in 1819, Hardenberg himself drew up the outlines of 
a constitution based on the representation of the existing estates, 
and Treitschke says that he did it with " a serious and honest 
purpose." It is true that the document ended with the excel- 
lent sentiment " Salus publica suprema lex esto ! " yet for all 
that. Stein's reproach, that Hardenberg offered " liberal phrases 
and despotic realities," was well founded. All the scheme pro- 
posed was that a " general " Diet should be elected by the 
provincial assemblies out of the privileged classes of which they 
were composed ; it was to be allowed to consider and report on 
legislative proposals put before it by the ministry, but the King 
reserved an unconditional veto, as well as undivided executive 
power. With all its deficiences, however, the scheme was 
too liberal for the King, and he refused to proceed with it. 

Treitschke deals with this episode in the political history 
of Prussia fully, but not sympathetically, and in consequence he 
does far less than justice to the single-minded men — many of 
them among the foremost figures of their day. Stein, Humboldt, 
Schon, Vincke, Gneisenau, not to speak of men like Niebuhr, 
Amdt, and Dahlmann — who dared, at great risk to their reputa- 
tions, to identify themselves with the pohtical aspirations of the 
Prussian nation. He tries to show that the nation did not 
look for a reward, and speaks of the " wonderful story," the 
" party legend," that came into currency at the end of the war, 
to the effect that the federal Princes, and the King of Prussia 
with them, had by the promise of constitutions " filled the 
German people with illusory hopes." He scorns the idea, as 
Bismarck did, that patriotism could be requited in any such 
way, like a debt paid over a counter. Nevertheless, the fact 
remains that, whether as reward or not, the promise of a 
constitution was deliberately made and deliberately broken 
by Frederick William HI, not once but ^several times, and 
that more than a generation had to pass before the pledge was 



made good, and then it was redeemed grudgingly by another 

Treitschke has not a word of reproach or disapproval for 
this act of perfidy. On the contrary, he speaks of the King's 
promises as unfortunate and his disregard of them as laudable. 
He says in his justification that the country needed " several 
years more of political dictatorship." As if Prussia had ever 
had anything else ! In point of fact, the dictatorship was to 
last unaltered not for several but for over thirty years more, 
and it has not altogether disappeared even to-day. Again, he urges 
that the medley of races, German and French, Saxon, Swedish 
and Polish, made it dangerous to give a constitution. But it 
was from just the opposite standpoint that the far-seeing 
Bismarck proceeded when, in the hope of creating unity out of 
a still greater diversity, he promised in 1866 and established in 
1867 the North German Diet and made it eligible by a franchise 
which is still as democratic as any in Europe. Worst of all, 
says Treitschke, the Prussian nation was unripe and unfit for 
political emancipation. This is the plea that has been advanced 
by the advocates of oligarchy in that country ever since, and 
it is the stock argument of the reactionary parties to-day. All 
such transparent pretexts suggest that Treitschke himself was 
conscious that he had a bad case to defend. The pity is that 
he should have tried to defend it at all. 

This, however, was the last time Frederick William III gave 
a thought to constitution-making. Reaction set in aU over 
Germany, and in repressing political movements and aspirations 
the Princes who had broken the pledge of 181 5 found a con- 
genial occupation. Then came the forcible dissolution of the 
Burschenschaften, an act of stupid intolerance which inspired 
perhaps the most moving elegy in the German language — " Wir 
hatten gebauet ein stattliches Haus " ; the persecution of the 
demagogues, most of whom were no demagogues at all, but 
moderate, sober-minded citizens whose only sin was that they 
took their rulers at their word ; the stranghng of free thought 
in every form in which it dared to show itself ; the shackUng 
of the printing press ; the suppression, so far as force could do 
it, of every popular effort and aspiration after poHtical emanci- 
pation. "^ [In teUing the story of that pitiful war against the 
spirit of a nation, the true Kulturkampf of the nineteenth 
century, Treitschke has no indignation for the unspeakable 
.infamies which were perpetrated in the name of raison d'etat, 


History of Germany 

and no enthusiasm for the men who were fighting for the right 
to serve their country and generation with free minds and 
unfettered wills. 

The reaction seemed to triumph, to triumph completely, 
yet the popular movements of that day, though checked and 
apparently extinguished, powerfully influenced the course of 
domestic history during the succeeding half century, as the cause 
of political liberty became identified more and more closely with 
that of national unity. 










§1. Character of the Congress. PersonaHty of its 

Participants - - - - - 3 

§2. The Territorial Negotiations - - - 26 

§3. The Germanic Federation - - - 92 


§1. The Belgian Campaign 
§2. The Second Peace of Paris 




§1. Literary Characteristics of the Epoch - - 231 

§2. Poetry and the Fine Arts . . _ 247 

§3. Science ------ 296 


§1. The European Situation - . - 

§2. The Frankfort Negotiations - - - 


§1. PersonaUties and Parties at the Court - 
§2. Reorganisation c^ the Administration 
§3. The Provinces - - - . . 

§4. Beginnings of the Constitutional Struggle 




History of Germany 


§1. The Good Old Law in Swabia - - - 588 

§2. Bavaria ------ 623 

§3. Baden ___--- 661 

§4. Nassau and Hesse Darmstadt - - - 687 


I. E. M. Amdt and Wrede - - - - 697 

II. Blucher upon the Mutiny at Liege - - - 702 

III. Treitschke's Preface to the Second Volume of the 

German Edition ----- 703 

IV. Schmalz and the Order of the Red Eagle - - 705 

INDEX - - . _ . - - 713 









When Frederick William set out for Vienna in the autumn, he 
expected to make a stay of about three weeks. Fully nine months 
were to elapse from the first conference of the plenipotentiaries of 
the four allied powers on September i8, 1814, to the final signing 
of the last act of the congress on June 19, 1815. Who could 
have found energy and satisfaction for the speedy despatch of 
the business ? The five senses claimed their rights after the con- 
vulsive anxieties and unrests of these two wild decades. Just as 
Paris after the fall of the Terror had plunged into a vortex of 
enjoyment, so did the old princely and noble Europe now draw a 
deep breath, rejoicing at its regained security. The great plebeian 
had fallen, he who had once taught the highly born what the un- 
tamed energy of a single man is capable of effecting in an old 
world ; the heroes of the sword disappeared from the scene, and 
with them disappeared the great passion, the pitiless veracity of 
war. Like worms after rain, the petty talents of the boudoir and 
the antechamber crawled out of their hiding-places and stretched 
themselves luxuriously. The distinguished world was once more 
at ease, in full possession of itself. Who could have imagined 
that the veteran Prince de Eigne who had been the lion of the 
salons in France under the kings, and was now on the edge of the 
grave, was once more to enjoy all the glory and all the splendour 
of highly noble society, and was to construct witty and mischievous 
epigrams about the distinguished congress, which danced indeed 
but made no progress ? 

Yet it failed to return, that ingenuous nonchalance of the 
good old times when it was so clearly understood that humanity 
really began with the baron, when never a word of the mockery 
and of the free-thought of the great lords could make its way 


History of Germany 

through to trouble the happy simplicity of the mob. By the 
new generation, the fear of the revolution was still felt in every 
limb. Amid the intoxicating pleasures of the congress there came 
sinister news of the ItaUan secret league of the carbonari and of the 
dull ferment in France, of the angry speeches of the disillusioned 
Prussian patriots, of the conspiracies of the Greeks, and of the 
heroic struggle of the Serbs against their Turkish tyrants. How- 
ever carefully the doors were closed, however sedulously the loud 
knocking of the new democratic epoch was ignored, people no 
longer felt perfectly at ease. As of old mockery had been the 
mode, so now was belief ; even the man of the v/orld must have 
at his disposal a few unctuous words about Christianity and the 
divine right of kings. Although pigtails and powder were not 
revived, the effeminate love of adornment of the eighteenth cen- 
tury was still manifest in the beardless faces, the snuff-boxes, the 
shoes and the silk stockings, in the deliberate elegance of masculine 
clothing ; and yet the tone of intercourse had already become 
much freer and less formal. No longer was anything heard of the 
old disputes about rank and title, or of the pedantic quarrels 
regarding the shape and the colour of chairs ; the ministers met 
to dehberate now here, now there, where any one of the pleni- 
potentiaries might be housed, and signed the documents in 
alphabetical order, or just as they happened to be sitting at table. 
Most strikingly were the changed customs manifested upon the 
great ceremonial days of the congress. The Middle Ages celebrated 
ecclesiastical festivals, and the century of Louis XIV celebrated 
courtly festivals ; the new age exhibited a distinctively militarist 
character. Parades and inspection of troops were invariable 
whenever the modem state wished to shine in all its glory. Even 
Austria, at that time the least warlike among the great states 
of the continent, dared not wholly ignore the colossal force of the 
new great armies. Fifty years before, the military aspect of the 
Prussian court had aroused mockery ; but now Prussian customs 
had everywhere taken root, and even Francis, the weapon-shy, 
had sometimes to appear in uniform. 

A congress of diplomats can never work creatively ; all it 
can do is to effect a tolerable arrangement of the results of 
the war, and to give these a secure foundation. How could 
this assembly at Vienna have done anything more ? An inde- 
scribable exhaustion burdened the spirits of all, as had happened 
long before at the congress of Utrecht, at the close of the bloody 
age of Louis XIV. Just as the crown prince Frederick had then 


The Congress of Vienna 

deplored the general decadence of European statecraft, so now 
the exhausted and harassed diplomatic world timorously ignored 
all the inchoate new ideas of the time, and found itself once more 
at home amid the comfortable political views of the old century, 
when the state was regarded as a mere agglomeration of so many 
square miles and so many inhabitants. The atmosphere of Vienna 
contributed its effect. Here, in the centre of the huge family 
property which was termed Austria, in this confusion of forcibly 
married lands and peoples, there had never been any inkling of 
the moral energies which hold together a national state-structure ; 
and it was quite in keeping with the spirit of the old Hapsburg 
policy that Austria and Bavaria should now dispute with one 
another whether the subjects of the mediatised, who brought in 
very little to th-ir suzerain lord, were to be counted as half a unit 
of population or only as a third. It was with disgust that the 
liberated nations learned that they were again to be treated as 
nothing more than a great herd, of value only in respect of number. 
In the Rheinische Merkur, Gorres stormed against " the heartless 
statistical methods " of the Viennese diplomats ; and Blucher 
wrote fiercely to his old friend Riichel, " The worthy congress of 
Vienna is hke the annual market of a little town to which everyone 
drives his beast to sell or to exchange." To prevent a revival of 
the French power by an arbitrary distribution of lands and people — 
now, as formerly at Utrecht, this one idea monopolised the entire 
wisdom of the cabinets. Just as in those days Catel de St. Pierre 
had imagined that by a new and completely arbitrary reconstitu- 
tion of the map, an unalterable state of peace might be brought 
into being, so now there reawakened the unmanly dream of 
perpetual peace, this most certain characteristic of poUtically 
exhausted and mentally impoverished epochs. Many excellent 
men of every class and every nation seriously cherished the hope 
that world- history was at length to desist from its eternal move- 
ment, that its progress was to be arrested in obedience to the 
decisions of the Viennese Areopagus. 

Prussian diplomacy had not attained to the same level as 
j Prussian military strategy ; not one Prussian statesman possessed 
the bold, free, and secure vision of Gneisenau. But the incom- 
plete and inefficient outcome of the Vienna negotiations was 
determined by the very nature of things, and could not be attri- 
jbuted to the mistakes of individual men. The War of Liberation 
|had failed to cure the most serious disease of the old system 
)f states, to which in the latest volume of his Geist der Zeit 

History of Germany 

Arndt had warningly referred, namely, the state of disintegra- 
tion of Germany and of Italy. Since in both these countries 
public opinion was still completely immature, the main result 
of the congress was for both peoples to bring about a restoration : 
for the ItaUans, the territorial distribution of 1795 ; for the 
Germans, the re-establishment of that loose association of minor 
monarchies which had formerly arisen out of the princes' revolu- 
tion of 1803. On both sides of the Alps, Austria had acquired a 
mediate, cleverly veiled suzerainty, which was incomparably firmer 
than the Napoleonic world-empire, and which deprived Germans 
and Italians alike of all possibility of peaceful national develop- 
ment. A Germanic Federation including Austria and the still 
unconverted satraps of Bonaparte, would mean nothing else than 
eternalised anarchy ; an Italy subjected to Austria, to Pope, 
Bourbons, and archdukes, would perforce remain in a condi- 
tion of pitiable weakness. A long schooling of sorrows was still 
requisite until the two nations whose destinies were so closely 
akin could gain a knowledge of the ultimate causes of their 
misfortime ; until that illusion of a peaceful dualism which still, 
and not by chance, continued to dominate the leading intelligences, 
had been recognised as completely vain ; and until the ancient 
and proud Frederician traditions had once more been restored to 
honour. The establishment of a well-secured North German 
power, such as was needed by the nation, was from the first 
impossible to secure in Vienna, since Prussia's destiny was here 
largely dependent upon the will of her enemies and rivals. It is 
possible that a bold and talented statesman at the head of 
Prussia would have given a much simpler course to the involved 
interplay of the Viennese negotiations, would have brought about 
a quicker crisis and a quicker decision ; yet so unfavourable were 
the circumstances that it would have been difficult for anyone 
to effect more than was actually effected. 

In view of the weakness, for the time still incurable, of 
Central Europe, the new system of the European balance of 
power which was founded in Vienna could be nothing more than a 
makeshift, a weakly structure which owed its endurance not to its 
own solidity but merely to the general exhaustion and the general 
desire for peace. Many of the most difficult and dangerous 
problems of international law were left unsettled, the members 
of the congress contenting themselves with the opportunist phrase 
which soon became the mode, c'est une question vide. Never- 
theless, from the bitter lessons of these terrible years of war, at 


The Congress of Vienna 

least one great and new idea emerged and became a common 
possession of the political world. Even the average frivolous 
diplomat began to understand that the state is not, as the last 
century had dreamed, merely power, that its life does not consist 
wholly in keeping a watchful eye upon neighbouring states and in 
craftily overreaching them. The prospect of the triumph which 
the dissensions of the old powers had prepared for the revolution 
and for its crowned hero, had at length awakened a living European 
sense of community. The liberated world had earnestly deter- 
mined to live as a peaceful society of states ; it felt that the 
nations, notwithstanding all their divergent interests, had numerous 
great civilising tasks to fulfil, and that these could be fulfilled 
only through friendly understanding. Even though the old 
mechanical view of the state still predominated, the conscienceless 
raison d'etat of the old cabinet policy was already passing into 
discredit, and it remained a permanent historical service of the 
congress of Vienna that it furnished new forms and new rules for 
the neighbourly intercourse of the society of states. It was a 
definite advance that an agreement should at length be secured 
concerning the rules of international etiquette, concerning the pre- 
cedence of diplomatic agents, and concerning other inconspicuous 
but indispensable preliminaries to an orderly intercourse between 
the nations. Upon the sea, indeed, everything remained as of 
old. Here there was no international law, but only the power 
of England ; the pride of the queen of the seas would not even 
consent to an understanding about salutes to the flag. 

Still more important were the consequences of the agree- 
ments regarding navigation upon the rivers which by convention 
were common to several neighbouring states, a laborious piece 
of work, in which Humboldt's diligence and perspicuity were 
invaluable. The commercial pohcy of the eighteenth century 
had on principle sought the advantage of any particular state 
in the injury it could inflict upon its neighbours ; now for the 
first time did a European treaty appeal to the doctrine of political 
economy, in the sense of a recognition that the facilitation of 
intercourse was a joint interest to all the nations. In addi- 
tion, a great common work of Christian compassion was already 
contemplated : the powers agreed upon the abolition of the slave 
trade. At first, indeed, this agreement touched only the 
principle of the matter, for Spain and Portugal would not give 
binding pledges. None the less, the way was broken for a long 
series of treaties by which there was woven ever more closely 


History of Germany 

the fabric of international intercourse, and which provided an ever 
securer basis for the legal rights of the foreigner. The newly 
awakened national pride had by no means destroyed the healthy 
nucleus of the old German cosmopolitan sense. Hardly had the 
Imperator been overthrown, when Sethe, the Prussian jurist, laid 
before Stein a memorial, in which he showed how severe and 
hostile to foreigners were the provisions of the code Napoleon;'^ 
men of learning and men of business combined to demand 
from German diplomacy the 'safeguarding of the rights of the 
foreigner. With the Vienna congress there began a new epoch 
of international law, a more humane age, which gradually made 
the great name of the society of nations an actual reality, and 
which, in especial, at length gave a positive content to the idea 
of international civil law. 

Unquestionably in this advance of international law the 
increase of world-trade played a greater part than did the 
conscious insight of the members of the congress. How would 
it have been possible for a serious and profound political sense to 
develop in this brilliant assembly, the most distinguished and 
most numerous which the world had seen since the great days 
of the Council of Constance ? All the powers of Europe, with the 
single exception of the Porte, were represented. In the Graben 
and upon the bastions of old Vienna, in the Prater and at the 
great bourse of the diplomatists, the Hotel of the Empress of 
Austria, there thronged a motley concourse of princes and pre- 
tenders, statesmen and officers, priests and professors, adven- 
turers, sharpers and suppUants, most humbly admired and most 
humbly plundered by the good-natured Viennese, who could 
never see enough of the high dignitaries. The original sin of the 
everyday work of diplomatists, the intermingling of serious 
business of state with trifling, the intrigues and the chatter of 
the drawing-rooms, flourished luxuriantly. Even more hateful 
than the unavoidable immoraUty of this great bacchanal of 
princes, appeared the ludicrous mendacity which here became 
a fine art ; anyone who wished to shine in this field, must learn 
how in the morning to conclude a great war-alliance against his 
daily table companion, and in the afternoon to greet this same 
friend with undisturbed affection. 

Over the whole glittering and dazzling activity lay the 
atmosphere of that trivial thoughtlessness which the rule of the 
Hapsburgs had established upon the soil of Vienna. The time 

* Scthe to stein, DUsscldorf, May 13, X814. 

The Congress of Vienna 

had long passed since the valiant burghers of the faithful German 
town of Vienna had constructed the magnificent churches of the 
place. What was there of beauty which had been built during 
these three long centuries since the town on the Danube had 
become the centre of the great empire ? Absolutely nothing — 
at most the cupola of the Karlsldrche and the Belvedere Castle 
might be said to display a certain individuahty. Everywhere 
else, in the hideous houses of the city, and in the palaces of 
the wealthy nobility, was manifest the same lack of taste. There 
were a few art-collections in the town, but nobody went to see 
them. The treasures of the Ambras collection were forgotten ; 
Charles Augustus of Weimar was the first to rediscover them, 
for the talented prince took no pleasure in the insipid nullity of 
these social pleasures, and ranged the town on the look-out for 
more refined enjoyments. It was still the same old Vienna which 
had been mocked by Schiller, the town of the Phaeacians with 
their eternal Sunday and the ever-turning spit. There was no 
trace of scientific activity : who had ever heard anything of the 
venerable university, except that it possessed a well-ordered 
hospital with a few able physicians ? Over the town lay the 
heavy hand of the secret police, and there prevailed in the 
political world a general atmosphere of dullness. Not a soul 
in this pleasure-seeking nation troubled himself about the poli- 
tical activities of the congress ; during nine months Austrian 
observers produced one single article discussing the affairs of the 
illustrious assembly, and no one was astonished at this dearth 
of literar}^ activity. The theatre alone still served to show that 
a highly talented branch of the human race lived in Vienna, and 
that the decayed intellectual life might once again awaken. In 
the circles of the Austrian magnates, culture was still entirely 
French ; it was only with the Prussian visitors that p)eople sp>oke 
German in order to show a kindly feeling for the northern 
Teutonism. The wit of the old Bourbon aristocracy was indeed 
jaltogether lacking ; even the leading Jewish financiers, who now, 
[thanks to the financial need of the House of Austria, for the first 
time attained to power and made their way into the distinguished 
rorld, the members of the firms of Arnstein, Eskeles, and Herz, 
i^ere by no means richly endowed with this quality. 

It was inevitable that the spiritual poverty of the environ- 
lent should react upon the tone of the congress. Deliberate 
ileasure-seeking offered here the only protection against tedium, 
lasks and drives in the Prater, dances and gaming parties, 


History of Germany 

banquets and tableaux, followed one another in monotonous 
succession, so that the work of the diplomats could hardly be 
begim. A caustic observation of Prince de Ligne, a scandalous 
story about Metternich, who never honoured less than two ladies 
at once with his favour, or a witty remark about the newly 
discovered hobby-horse of Baron Drais, whose limping progress 
so strongly resembled that of the congress itself, or some judg- 
ment uttered by that high court of refined taste which at the 
table of Talleyrand ceremoniously declared the cheese of Brie to 
be the king of cheeses. Such were the only reliefs amid this 
colossal insipidity. It seemed as if the re-established old princely 
society of the nations of Europe now desired to display to the 
world for what useless purposes it flourished. " We have learned 
much from Napoleon," Charles Augustus said bitterly, " and 
among other things we have learned effrontery." 

Emperor Francis, the host of the assembly, played, not 
without abiUty, his part of honourable patriarch among the high 
nobiUty, although he was as yet barely forty-seven years of age. 
He did not grudge the daily expenditure of fifty thousand gulden 
for the imperial table, and for the congress as a whole the expendi- 
ture of sixteen million gulden, whilst his unpaid veterans were 
begging in the streets ; the crafty reckoner knew well the advan- 
tages he gained by the position of host. How touching, to the 
serene highnesses who were his guests, seemed this unpretending 
figure in a shabby blue coat, with his good-natured petty bour- 
geois manners. Born in Florence, Francis had not come to the 
Danube until he was already a young man ; but the mask of the 
frank, true-hearted, blunt Austrian, which he had then assumed, 
now fitted him like a glove, because it was suited to his 
phlegmatic disposition and to his vulgar inclinations. No one 
could ever induce him to feel any sentiment of cordial benevo- 
lence ; the changes of destiny of this gigantic time passed over 
his dull egoism without leaving a trace. He never commuted a 
death -sentence unless the offender himself begged for death ; 
he himself supervised the maltreatment of political prisoners, 
himself determined the weight of the chains, and the number of 
the days of fasting, and knew no more enjoyable recreation than 
the reading of intercepted letters ; he had already lost two 
wives, and was soon to bury the third, in order with invincible 
equanimity to marry the fourth : on principle he surrounded himself 
with people of a dubious past, whom he could at any time dismiss 
at will. Notwithstanding all this, and notwithstanding the evil 


The Congress of Vienna 

expression in his cold, hard eyes, notwithstanding his close resem- 
blance to Philip II of Spain to whom he was akin not in blood 
only but in spirit, all the world believed in the child-hke 
innocence of the heartless and suspicious despot. His poUtical 
system was the simplest possible. After all the troubles and 
distresses of these desolate years, he wished at length to secure 
his own peace, wished at length to function as a diligent privy 
councillor, covering the margins of official documents with un- 
meaning observations, to play the fiddle in his leisure hours, cut out 
paper images, varnish bird-cages, and engage in other imperial 
dissipations. Stupid and dull-witted like the majority of his 
forefathers, completely incapable of even beginning to understand 
ta new political thought, he regarded all the revolutionary and 
[national ideas which were animating the new century as nothing 
imore than wickedness and stupidity, as merely a punishable 
[rebellion against the pious archducal house. With this poverty 
[of spirit there was, however, associated a thorough-going peasant 
(cunning, a certain rude instinct for the politically attainable. 
[The emperor felt very truly that his house had already gained 
|almost everything which was desirable, and that it must neces- 
irily regard any change in the society of states as a danger. 
[Consequently, from inclination, on principle, and by calculation, 
he was the sworn enemy of all innovations, the suspicious oppo- 
inent of the two ambitious neighbour powers, Russia and, above 
[all, Prussia. 

Whilst to the good emperor it was a difficult matter to emerge 

I from his unostentatious daily habits and to take part in the 

Ibrilhant society of the congress, the adroit Metternich could swim 

jUke a fish in this sparkling whirlpool. He had never had such 

Ian enjoyable time since the dissipated days of his youth, during 

his education in the easy-going spiritual courts of his Rhenish 

home. No one knew so well as he how to carry through a pohtical 

intrigue between dinner and a masked ball, how before going to keep 

[an assignation to send off a quickly drafted official despatch, or 

while looking affectionately into the beautiful blue eyes of one 

lof his intimates to he from the bottom of his soul. Nor was he 

lat all displeased when his Prussian friends regarded him as far 

more frivolous than he actually was, and when they took for 

forgetfulness and neglect what had been done from dehberate 

intention. For just as in his own household, notwithstanding all 

|his display, he remained ever a careful host, frugal to the point 

of avarice, so amid the distractions of social intercourse he held 

1 1 

History of Germany 

tenaciously to his political plans. In this great conference upon 
Austrian soil, he saw a brilliant triumph of the Hapsburg-Lorraine 
statecraft, regarded the decisions of the illustrious assembly as 
his own work, and imagined that by these means bounds would 
be set once for all to the movements of national life. Like the 
emperor, he saw that his Austria could follow no policy but one 
of conservatism, and like the emperor he wished to control the 
revolutionary ideas of the nations by a strict police supervision, 
and to bridle the ambition of the two aspiring young eastern 
powers whilst displaying towards them in appearance the most 
tender friendship. It was owing to these considerations that 
he formed a firm alliance with the English-Hanoverian tories, 
whose sentiments resembled his own, and it was for these reasons 
that he remained on excellent terms with the Bourbon 
court. Prussia's national pohcy had already imposed a barrier 
in the way of the treaties with the Rhenish Confederate states ; 
the first thing to do now was, by rescuing Saxony, to bind the 
petty thrones more firmly to the House of Austria, and thus to 
safeguard Turkey against Russian attack. It was in a fight with 
the Turks that Austria had first come to the front, and through 
this in reality that she had first become a state ; to the thought- 
less love of power of this new political wisdom it now seemed, 
on the other hand, a sacred duty to preserve the last fragments 
of the Turkish dominion. The sorrows of the Serbian and Greek 
rayahs, sorrows which cried to heaven, aroused in the Hofburg 
no more than a frivolous smile. A sentiment of inner kinship 
bound to the Sublime Porte this new Austria, who in her Italian 
provinces could maintain herself only by the power of the sword. 
Since the beginning of 1813, Gentz had been engaged in regular 
confidential correspondence with Janko Karadja, the Wallachian 
hospodar, who in the Divan was to keep " our most faithful allies " 
precisely informed concerning the situation of the world and the 
intentions of the court of Vienna. In vain, since the autumn, 
had Metternich been working for the same end, endeavouring 
to persuade the czar that the sultan must be accepted into the 
European family of princes, and that his possessions must be 
solemnly guaranteed by all the powers in common. 

Tlie gap in the great system of the policy of stability was 
now to be filled in. Ojuld this be effected, and could Alexander's 
Polish plans be also frustrated, in Metternich's view the work 
of the congress would be safeguarded for an indefinite period. 
Such was his view of the world. Pleasure and repose were to him 


The Congress of Vienna 

the highest aims of poHtical life, and nothing but the dread of a 
disturbance of the peace could spur him to a valiant resolution. 
A persistent state of disintegration in Germany, so that the 
sovereign petty kings should voluntarily turn to Austria for pro- 
tection against Prussia and against " the dangerous idea of Ger- 
man unity " ; the eternal powerlessness of Italy, which, as Lord 
Castlereagh dryly answered to complaints of the Piedmontese, 
must ever remain partitioned for the peace of Europe, and which 
in the eyes of the Hofburg was no more than a geographicaJ 
expression ; France watched by a number of peaceful states of 
secondary importance surrounding their dangerous neighbour 
from the Texel to the Ligurian Sea, and cutting her off from all 
contact with the great powers ; Russia held in check by a united 
Europe which was to take Turkey under her protection ; the 
revolution crushed by the united resistance of the courts wherever 
and whenever it might show itself — such were the forms of the 
new Europe, led by Austria, as they presented themselves to the 
mind of Metternich. It was a system of pusillanimity, the off- 
spring of a mind devoid of ideas ; one which had no inkhng of 
the motive forces of history : but this poUcy corresponded to the 
momentary needs of the Austrian monarchy ; it harmonised with 
the general desire for repose felt by the exhausted world ; it 
set to work with calculated cunning, with profound knowledge 
of all the mean impulses of human nature and it was based, 
in masterly fashion, upon those petty arts of good-natured and 
smiling mendacity wherein from ancient days had lain the 
strength of the Hapsburg statecraft. 

Among the foreign guests it was the EngUsh who attracted 

most attention. It was long since the pohshed continentals had 

seen such a toilette as that of the gigantic Lady Castlereagh, one 

so old-fashioned, hideous, and tasteless. The islanders, who for 

years had been shut off from the Continent, seemed hke figures 

from another world ; everywhere they aroused mockery by the 

^extraordinary crotchetiness of their disposition, and everywhere 

lostility by their preposterous arrogance. The whole of the 

)lite world laughed with malicious deUght when the Viennese 

lb-drivers once actually inscribed upon the back of General Sir 

[Charles Stewart the universal opinion regarding British humility. 

It was not until towards the end of the congress that WeUington 

)ut in an appearance, this time at length a worthy representative 

)f the great naval power ; but he also understood no more of 

jrman affairs than did his poor-spirited colleagues Castlereagh 


History of Germany 

and Cathcart, and like both of these the duke was guided by the 
counsels of the Austrians and the Hanoverians. How differently 
did the czar know how to make his influence felt. He still was 
glad to play the part of the handsome young man, and was some- 
times to be seen walking arm-in-arm with the illustrious young 
cavaliers of the Bohemian or the Hungarian nobles' guard. At 
the same time he continued to maintain the sacred character of 
saviour and liberator of the world ; never before had he spoken 
so eloquently and softly regarding the promotion of the happi- 
ness of the human race. In a memorandum despatched from 
Vienna to all of his ambassadors he assumed a tone which reminds 
us of the language of the Rheinische Merkur. The fall of 
Napoleon, he said in so many words, had been effected through 
the victory of public opinion over the views of most of the 
cabinets ; in future every nation must be empowered to defend its 
own independence ; consequently there must be no further parti- 
tion of countries, and a representative system must everywhere 
be introduced ! Now, too, Alexander was in the fortunate situa- 
tion of finding that his ideas of world-liberation coincided pre- 
cisely with his personal interests. On the way to Vienna, he had 
stayed for a few days at Pulawy, Czartoryski's beautiful castle, 
enjoying here the intoxicating homage of the charming Polish 
ladies ; now he had brought his Sarmatian friend with him to 
Vienna, and displayed himself openly as the constitutional king 
of the new PoUsh realm. 

Nesselrode, Mettemich's friend, almost fell into disfavour; 
his word counted for little as compared with the views of Czar- 
toryski and Capodistrias. This talented Corfiote hardly cared 
to conceal that he regarded the Russian service as no more than 
a step by which he hoped to become the hero and liberator of his 
Greek fatherland ; all enslaved peoples were to him objects for 
help and, above all, unhappy Italy, which was dear to him as 
sister in destiny to his own Hellas. The newly founded Hetairia 
(Society of Friends) of Odessa, and the Philomuse League of 
Athens, found in him a protector. Soon some Russian lords were 
to be seen wearing the golden and iron rings of the two Hellenic 
leagues, and the young prince Ypsilanti was active on behalf of 
the Greek cause. German princes, statesmen, and men of 
learning, also became numbered among the Philhellenes ; Haxt- 
haascn's fine collection of modern Greek ballads was passed 
from hand to hand, simultaneously awakening ancient classical 
memories and [ Christo-Romantic enthusiasm. However conser- 


The Congress of Vienna 

vative the times might be, the German ideaUsts could not agree 
to regard as a legitimate prince this Grand Turk, who at the very 
time was flaying, impaling, and roasting the Serbs in masses. 
Metternich saw with regret that the desired freedom of the 
European city for his Turkish protegd was still remote, and he 
observed with increasing mistrust the revolutionary sentiments 
of the czar, who had now resumed friendly relations with Stein, 
and who desired for the Germans a really viable federal constitu- 
tion. It was unfortunate that Stein held no office, so that whilst 
he could express his opinions freely to all, at the critical moment 
of the negotiations he could not uttei a decisive voice. 

To the unpretentious mind of Frederick William the eternal 
pomp soon became unendurable ; he yearned to be at home once 
more, engaged in orderly work in his quiet castle, and was utterly 
bored by all the festivals, although to some small extent he was 
shyly paying court to the beautiful countess Julie Zichy. He 
remained firmly convinced that the Russian alhance was indis- 
pensable, yet he did not venture at present to oppose a decisive 
negative to the different views of Hardenberg and Humboldt, 
and even took pleasure in daily intercourse with Knesebeck, the 
declared enemy of Russia, who, always a zealous adherent of 
Austria, was now, hke Metternich, an enthusiast for the sultan. 
The easy-going chancellor was quite at home amid these 
multifarious activities ; it pleased him when the palm for grace 
and amiability was allotted to himself among the older men of 
the congress, as it was to Metternich among the younger ; but it 
was manifest that his declining energies suffered from the unending 
distractions. Humboldt was better able to endure the fatigues 
of a life of enjoyment, and amid the hurly-biurly of social pleasures 
to maintain his tenacious industry. In intelligence and culture, 
in alertness and uprightness of feeling, the Prussian statesmen 
were not lacking. Next to Gentz, Humboldt and the privy coun- 
cillors of Hardenberg's chancellery, Staegemann, Jordan, and 
, Hoffmann, were the best workers at the congress ; it was they 
^almost alone who carried out the difficult statistical calculations 
i^hich served as the basis for the reconstitution of the map of 
Lurope, and their pitiless enumeration of figures was often weari- 
some to those of other nations, and especially to the French, to 
I'hom geography had always seemed a tedious subject. Of the 
learned statistician Hoffmann, Talleyrand said once, in a rage : 
Who on earth is that little man who counts all the heads and 
loses his own ? " But the buoyant resolution which might have 


History of Germany 

found a secure way out of the labyrinth of diplomatic intrigues 
was lacking to these loyal workers. On the whole, the king's small 
following, not excepting the men of pleasure, Prince Augustus 
and Hardenberg, proved straightforward and honourable ; the 
pretty, pleasure-loving women of Vienna simply could not under- 
stand why the king's brother, the handsome and much-courted 
Prince William, who had displayed his lion-like courage in the 
face of the enemy, should be so shy and girhsh in women's society, 
and why he could never forget his much-loved wife. 

The most numerous and variegated portion of the distin- 
guished assembly was naturally constituted by the German petty 
princes. There was not one of them, from the Bavarian Max 
Joseph down to Henry LXIV of Reuss, who did not dihgently 
court the favour of the foreign rulers ; the Russians related with 
unconcealed contempt what piles of begging letters from Grerman 
serene highnesses had accumulated in the czar's cabinet. There 
was not one who did not regard his arrogated sovereignty as 
an unapproachable holy of holies ; since the agreements of the 
previous autumn, they felt once more so secure in the possession 
of this Napoleonic gift, that one of the smallest said openly to 
Stein : "I know very well that my sovereignty is an abuse, but 
it suits me very well." With the sovereigns were associated the 
crowd of the mediatised, who still continued to hope for the 
recognition of their formally incontestable rights, although their 
fate had already been decided at Ried and Fulda. Their leader 
was the dowager princess of FUrstenberg, a brave and sagacious 
woman ; unweariedly she advocated the interests of her partners 
in misfortime, in association with privy councillor Gartner, the 
much-derided surcharge d'affaires, who was maintained by the dis- 
crowned at their own charges. 

In addition there were representatives from various German 
territories which demanded the restoration of their old dynasties : 
Baron von Summerau and Doctor Schlaar representing the Aus- 
trian party in Breisgau, a deputation from Diisscldorf, which 
town desired reunion with the Bavarian Palatinate, and so 
on. Not less zealously did Wamboldt, Helfferich, and Schies, 
the three orators of the Catholic Church in Germany, demand 
the re-establishment of the spiritual states which had been 
destroyed by the principal decision of the Diet of Deputation, or 
at least the surrender of the stolen ecclesiastical property. They 
were under the protection of the papal nuncio, the able and witty 
Cardinal Consalvi ; with them were associated Friedrich Schlcgel 


The Congress of Vienna 

the convert, Goethe's nephew. Councillor Schlosser, from Frank- 
fort, and a large circle of clericals containing many men of con- 
spicuous abiUty. Yet even in the ecclesiastical sphere there was 
manifest the hopeless disintegration of German hfe. For beside 
these representatives of the Roman Church, there appeared the 
vicar-general of Constance, Baron von Wessenberg, one of the 
gentle, enlightened, highly noble princes of the church charac- 
teristic of the century that had passed away — famosus ille Wessen- 
bergius, he had been named in a papal bull. His hope was for a 
German national Church, and it was his endeavour to secure the 
primacy of Germany for his principal Dalberg, the dethroned 
grand-duke of Frankfort. In addition there were a number of 
honourable republican statesmen from the Hansa towns, led by 
Smidt of Bremen, who had played a valiant part on the great 
headquarters-staff during the winter campaign, and who had 
won general respect by his prudence and trustworthiness ; there 
was also Jacob Baruch of Frankfort, as representative of German 
Jewry ; the able bookseller Cotta of Stuttgart, whose sagacity 
already led him to recognise that the decisive voice in German 
affairs was Austria's, and who therefore placed his Allgemeine 
Zeitung at the disposal of the Hofburg ; and an unending series, 
in addition, of place-hunters, eavesdroppers, and toadies. 

It was the chiefs of the middle-sized states who appeared as 
the genuine representatives of what the French termed " la 
troisi^me Allemagne." The hearts of all these creatures of Napo- 
leon were filled with envy for victorious Prussia. It was unen- 
durable that the state of Frederick should have restored to the 
Germans a fatherland, should have given them once more the 
right to feel joyful self-satisfaction. Down with the powerful 
eagle into the general mire of German powerlessness, quarrelsome- 
ness, and poverty of spirit — here was the thought in which the 
satraps of Bonapartism were all happily united. To weaken the 
state which alone could defend the fatherland seemed to them all 
to be a self-evident precondition of German freedom. Even that 
most bourgeois of all the kings, Max Joseph, who day after day 
wandered about the streets of Vienna, joking and chatting with 
everyone, the good-natured lord with whom all were acquainted, 
who with his rough and merry manner reminded people now of a 
French colonel of the old days and now of a Bavarian brewer, 
even he carried on the anti-Prussian campaign in deadly earnest, 
commanding his plenipotentiary that when in presence of the 
monaichs he should agree to nothing at all so long as the king of 


History of Germany 

Saxony was not restored to his rights. Similar were the views of 
his son, the eccentric crown prince Louis, although, to his father's 
great annoyance, the prince adhered to the party of the Teuton- 
ising enthusiasts, and was fond of using high-sounding language 
about the Teuton spirit and the preservation of Teutonism. 

Far more provocative was the attitude of the despot of Wiir- 
temberg. As doyen among the crowned heads he had every- 
where precedence, and consequently, with the naive arrogance 
of the German estate of petty princes, he determined that he 
would now really be the most distinguished of them all. He 
always gave the largest tips, in order to display the magnificence 
of the new Swabian crown ; he endeavoured in word and gesture 
to imitate the faUen Imperator, as far as his colossal girth of body 
rendered this possible ; unabashed, and in rough and angry 
speeches, he announced his anger at the disappearance of the 
glories of the Confederation of the Rhine. His heir, like the heir 
to the Bavarian throne, was an opponent of the Bonapartist sen- 
timents of the father. The soul of the crown prince William 
was fired by a restless ambition ; having in the last winter cam- 
paign shown himself a brave and able officer, he hoped to become 
commander-in-chief of the army of the Germanic Federation. 
His beloved Princess Catharine strengthened him in such dreams ; 
the youthful couple understood how to diffuse around them 
such a nimbus of spiritual grandeur that even sober-minded men 
beUeved that the court of Stuttgart would inaugurate a new 
age for Germany. The prince was widely over-estimated, and 
many already saw in him the future German emperor ; German 
particularism would not hear a word about the infinitely greater 
performances of the Prussian generals. 

Among the statesmen of the minor courts three were especially 
conspicuous, Wrede, Miinster, and Gagern, each after his own 
manner a typical representative of the impotent megalomania 
characteristic of the diplomatists of the petty states, a mania 
which had already brought so much ignominy upon Germany, 
and which for half a century yet to come was to play a leading 
part in the councils of the fatherland. Wrede had always shown 
himself a courageous swordsman, from those days when he led 
the Landsturm of the peasants of Odenwald against the sans- 
culottes down to the time of the " decisive battle " of Arcis, as 
it was named by the servile Bavarian press. Of genuine military 
talent he had as little as he had of noble sentiments or real cul- 
ture ; the unhappy Tyrolese insurgents had had sufficient experi- 


The Congress of Vienna 

ence of his brutal roughness. ^ The far-seeing Bavarian officers did 
not themselves believe in this manufactured greatness ; they knew 
that his comrade Deroy, the reformer of the Bavarian infantry, 
who had remained in Russia, had been an incomparably greater 
soldier ; they knew that the glories of Bavarian arms were to be 
sought, not in the campaign of the previous winter, but in the 
wars of the Confederation of the Rhine. However, the lucky man 
had abandoned France at the right moment, and had concluded 
the treaty of Ried which was of so much advantage to Austria. 
Since that time he had enjoyed the special favour of the court of 
Vienna ; the coarse blusterer was easier to get on with than was 
Montgelas with his tenacious cunning. Moreover, the Austrian 
army was itself so poorly provided with men of talent, that many 
of the Austrian diplomats seriously believed Wrede to be a com- 
mander. When he came to Vienna, he was still intoxicated by 
the praises which the allies had showered upon him after the 
defeat of Hanau ; he boasted that he would chastise Prussian 
greed by force of arms, whilst he demanded for Bavaria alto- 
gether immoderate compensation, even Mainz, Frankfort, and 
Hanau. He was now prince and field-marshal, for Bavaria, too, 
must have her Blucher, and he endeavoured to secure honour for 
his title by loud abuse of the quill-drivers, exclaiming, " a marshal 
Wrede signs only with the sword ! " 

A remarkable contrast to this sabre-rattling boaster was 
furnished by the rigid, worthy, and dignified Miinster, one of those 
enviable men who believe in themselves so profoundly that the 
uninitiated are inclined to share the delusion. To the servile natures 
of ducal and grand-ducal diplomacy, this gigantic man with a long 
face, reminding everyone of the well-known hereditary beauty 
of the House of Hapsburg, seemed magnificent when with unre- 
strained frankness he sang his own praises. The count did in 
fact possess a many-sided, although superficial, culture. Married 
to a princess of Biickeburg, and for so many years an associate 
)f the proudest nobility of the world, he was glad to play the part 
the great lord. Moreover, he had good reason to look down 
^pon the small fry of the Rhenish Confederate states, for he had 
id rich experience in the service of the English crown, 

* In the first two editions of this work there followed here in the text an 
Jservation regarding the act of pillage which Wrede is said to have perpetrated 
the year 1807 in the castle of Oels (related by Arndt. Wanderungen mit Stein, 
218). The passage has now been omitted because, as the outcome of 
ijquiries made in Oels, I have come to the conclusion that the story is inaccurate. 
Be Appendix, 


History of Germany 

and had displayed great endurance in the struggle with Bona- 
partism. Yet he was rather courtier than statesman, rather 
junker than aristocrat. Having made himself indispensable to 
the Guelphs by petty complacencies in the wearisome domestic 
negotiations of the royal house — chamberlain's services, to which 
neither the pride of Stein nor the suppleness of Hardenberg would 
ever have stooped — ^his conception of the great struggles of the 
century did not rise above the level of the simple prejudices of 
caste. " The principal struggle of our time," he was accus- 
tomed to say, " is that the ante-chamber wants to find its way 
into the drawing-room." As a correct official representative of 
electoral Brunswick, he demanded the restoration of the imperial 
dignity, whose abolition had indeed never been recognised by the 
Guelphs ; but the glories of the illustrious House of Guelph 
must not be diminished by this. His open contempt for the 
" kinglets " of the Confederation of the Rhine did not prevent 
him at the congress from immediately demanding (without the 
knowledge of the prince regent) a Hanoverian kingletship for 
his Guelphs — a. pretentious kingly crown, whose untenable claims 
were in days to come to press as a heavy burden upon the little 

It was the curse of this world of petty states that an 
honourable national pride was here impossible. However 
often Miinster might talk at large of the greatness of (Germany, 
it was his pride that his children were English. And however 
loudly he was accustomed to speak of the free spirit of the true 
aristocracy, he was himself utterly enmeshed in the servile ideas 
which the professional falsifications of particularist history had 
caused to flourish in the German minor states. This Guelph 
hous?, which since the days of Henry the Lion had done almost 
nothing for the German nation, was to him the most glorious in 
the world. Just as uncritically as the servile Gottingen pro- 
fessors did he describe the brilliancy of English parliamentarism 
(which had, however, developed solely through the congenital 
incapacity of the Guelph Georges, and to the detriment of their 
authority), ascribing these glories to the wisdom of the House of 
Brunswick, and rediscovering the much-loved " Guelph freedom " 
in the petrified junker rule of the Hanoverian territories. This 
great moment, when Germany at length once more belonged to 
herself, was one which he hoped to utilise in order to reverse the 
justified punishment which Henry the Lion had received for his 
misdeeds more than six hundred years before ; on the other hand 


The Congress of Vienna 

he found it preposterous that Prussia, on her side, should desire 
to secure atonement for the maltreatment suffered only seven 
years before. 

The Guelph statesman, although he had never made any 
attempt to acquire even a superficial understanding of Prussian 
affairs, was inspired by an ardent hatred for the Prussian neigh- 
bour. Among the political sins which for this unhappy nation 
barred the road to power and freedom, there was nothing so 
disastrous as the general failure to understand the true significance 
of the new history of the fatherland — a failure almost miraculous 
in a cultured nation. Of all the remarkable transformations which 
had been first rendered possible by the creation of the Prussian 
national army and the consequent liberation of Germany, hardly 
anything was known in the petty states. Whilst the Rhenish 
Confederates related extraordinary fables about the stupidity 
of the servile Brandenburg peasants and the tyranny of the Prus- 
sian junkers, the Hanoverians spoke disdainfully of the polyarchy 
of the Berlin bureaucracy. Even the wisest in Hanover were 
not free from such conceits. It was during the years in which 
the Hanoverian state was no longer in existence that Rehberg, 
the most notable man among those bourgeois councillors to whom 
the work of the noble Hanoverian ministers was entrusted, wrote 
his book upon administrative work under a monarchy, a glorifica- 
tion of the Guelph nobles' rule in opposition to the Prussian 
regime of slavery ; the apt rejoinder of Friedrich von Biilow, 
based upon a thorough knowledge of both states, attracted no 
attention. Thus Munster also had formed his ideas of the 
Prussian state solely out of current talk, perhaps with the aid of 
Wilhelmina's memoirs ; with unbounded contempt he expressed 
his feelings about the miseries of the corporal's administration of 
Berlin. Just as in the year 1804, from petty-minded mistrust, 
he had frustrated the Prussian occupation, which perhaps might 
still have saved his homeland, so upon the outbreak of the War 
)f Liberation he beheved that Prussia hved only as a memory ; 
md when this fine dream had been dispersed, he wrote, greatly 
troubled, to Gagern, that now Austria had been rounded off in 
the east and half excluded from Germany, the aggrandisement of 
issia was the greatest danger. Fear and jealousy were the 
lotive forces in the German policy of these ministeriunculi, as 
>tein contemptuously termed them. In Vienna, Munster was 
it first cautious ; it was his wish, so he wrote to the prince 
regent, not to anger the Prussian statesmen, and not to impose 


History of Germany 

difficulties in the way of the fluctuating negotiations concerning 
the rounding-off of the Guelph realm. His was an easy-going 
and dilettantist nature, that of " the painter," as his friends were 
accustomed to call him. He was in any case disinclined to per- 
sistent activity, and he was long kept to his room by an illness ; 
but wherever he had opportunity he worked zealously against 
Prussia, and he was unfortunately only too precisely informed 
concerning the ideas of the chancellor by that evil-minded tale- 
bearer, the Hanoverian Hardenberg. 

In Hans von Gagern, the constitutional federalist, was incor- 
porated yet another variety of the particularist pro-foreign spirit. 
Who did not know this busybody, the restlessly moving little man 
with the brightly flashing eyes and the winning smile ? He must 
always be there wherever there was amusement and feasting, 
and wherever there was any negotiation concerning a territory 
and a people ; completely uninvited, he thrust himself into all 
the affairs of the congress, with an unceasing flow of great words 
regarding the European balance of power and the protection of 
the lesser states. The celebrated wine-cellar of the House of 
Nassau and the friendship of Talleyrand, afforded him the means 
of making a nest for himself among the ambassadors of the great 
powers. Years before, the much-occupied imperial knight had 
been an enthusiast on behalf of the Holy Empire ; subsequently, 
always with the same zeal for the fatherland, he had served the 
Confederation of the Rhine, and had philanthropically saved from 
destruction a good dozen of condemned petty princes. Now he 
recommended a federation of perfectly equal kings, grand-dukes, 
and dukes, under the protection of the Austrian imperial crown, 
but he also recommended a considerable number of fundamental 
rights for the German people, for this wonderful man, ever young 
in spirit, remained a faithful liberal and a child of the French 

Gagem sought in Holland, just as Miinster sought in Eng- 
land, the centre of gravity of Central European policy. Quite 
recently thrown by chance into the Dutch service, he had in his 
inconstant imagination conceived an ideal image of the European 
destiny of the House of Orange ; and just as Miinster spoke of 
" Guelph freedom," so did Gagern speak of the " Orange poHcy 
of the golden mean." What did it matter to him that the old, 
heroic race of Orange had long passed away, and that the new 
line of Nassau-Dicz had not inherited the least trace of the great 
sentiments of its ancestors ? Generally speaking, the enthusiast 


The Congress of Vienna 

was untroubled even by the insatiable land-hunger of the new king 
of the Netherlands, although he was occasionally alarmed by this 
excess of avarice. For Germany, especially, he anticipated wonder- 
fully happy results from the wise policy of the princely house whose 
mottOjwas je maintiendray ! In his intoxication, he was no longer 
able to distinguish between Dutch and German interests. He 
sent his favourite and most talented son into the Dutch army, 
without for a moment feeling that he was sending him into 
foreign service ; just as recklessly did he endeavour to secure 
for his master one fragment after another detached from the 
(German left bank of the Rhine. His king would hear nothing 
of the Grermanic Federation ; and the ambassador himself regarded 
it as a doubtful policy to attach to the German state, in accordance 
with Hardenberg's desire, the whole of the Netherlands as a 
member of the Germanic Federation ; and he therefore put for- 
ward the preposterous proposal that the Netherlands, hke Austria, 
l^ussia, and Denmark, should adhere to the Germanic Federa- 
tion only with a portion of the Netherlands territory, that of 
Luxemburg. This half -measure was by no means regarded by 
Gagern as a last resource, but rather as a triumph of genuinely 
Germanic statecraft ; for the more intricate, absurd, and nebulous 
the frame of German constitutional law, the more, to his mind, 
did this seem to correspond to the ancient spirit of German free- 
dom. In the old empire there was nothing he had admired so 
greatly as the extraordinary legal relationships of Silesia and 
Old Prussia, of which no one had been able to say with certainty 
whether they belonged to Germany or not. It was in such bastard 
structures that he foresaw the true essence of the corpus nomenque 
Germanice ; how delighted he was with the hope of adorning the 
western frontier of Germany with a similar master-work of Teutonic 

At first the grown-up children of particularism trotted along 
joyfully upon their hobby-horses, delicately patching and polish- 
ing at the state structure of their fatherland, until the German 
constitution became as meaningless, mendacious, and senseless 
as had formerly been that of the old empire. Towards Prussia, 
Gagern cherished a strange sentiment of mingled terror and 
respect ; in this good-nature^ soul there was no place for hatred, 
for he ever looked upon all that came in his way, animate or in- 
mimate, from the most friendly side. In his historical fantasies, 
/hen he went back as far as the days of William III, he even 
[at times regarded Brandenburg and Holland as natural allies, 


History of Germany 

and ardently assured his Prussian friends that the existing system 
of states was largely dependent upon the good understanding 
between Berlin and The Hague. But the contentious neighbour 
state must not draw too near to his beloved Holland ; moreover 
the Saxon claims of Prussia seemed monstrous to the old advocate 
of the petty princedoms. With fiery zeal he constituted him- 
self the defender of the " most sacred rights " of the German high 
nobility, and wrote to the Prussian statesmen expressive letters 
in that ludicrously didactic tone which this pigmy was always 
glad to employ towards the long-suffering great ones of the earth. 
On one occasion, when he sent the chancellor one of his well- 
meaning, confusedly-learned pamphlets, he permitted himself 
to express the censure : " There is so much that is noble in your 
disposition that I return ever to the best hopes, even though 
things have happened which I find myself unable to approve." 
Thereupon Hardenberg, playing gently upon the protean nature 
of the particularist patriot, replied : " Regarding your annota- 
tion, however much value I place upon your approval, I do not 
feel it necessary to recognise in you the censor of my public 
actions, just as little as I venture to compare your excellency's 
own political behaviour in different epochs of your life, or to 
decide which of us two has done the most for Germany's peace 
and harmony, and for the establishment of her internal con- 
fidence." Notwithstanding such sarcasms, Hardenberg's good 
nature made it impossible for him to become seriously annoyed 
with this wonderful saint. His friends regarded the indefatigable 
man with a touch of humour. Alopeus wrote aptly : " This 
restless statesmen, to whom it is a matter of indifference what 
subject occupies his talents as long as he can appear thoroughly 
busy, has now become a Dutchman,"* 

Among statesmen of such a calibre, it was inevitable that 
the influence of Talleyrand should soon make itself felt, for of 
all the diplomats at the congress he was the ablest and the most 
determined opponent of Prussia. Upon the shppcry floor of the 
salon, an imperturbable firmness of tread has always been more 
conducive to victory than a courteous amiability. Whilst Metter- 
nich and Hardenberg obtained great successes in the distin- 
guished society by means of agreeable and winning methods 
Talleyrand's cynical audacity proved even more irresistible. What 
an impression was produced when the ungainly figure of this 

Gagern to Hardenlxtrg, November 12 and 18 ; Hardenberg to Gagern, 
November 16; Alopeus to^Humboldt, October ix, 1814. 


The Congress of Vienna 

limping club-footed man, dressed in an old-fashioned style dating 
from the Directory, pushed into the brilliant circle of the court : 
above the high stock was an enormous mouth with black teeth ; 
the small, deeply-set grey eyes were utterly devoid of expression ; 
the features were repulsively common, the countenance was im- 
passive ; he was incapable of blushing or of betraying the inner 
movement of his thoughts. A thoroughly mephistophehan figure 
was his. In Hardenberg's diary he is always spoken of as 
" Talleyrand with the goat's foot." The ladies were intoxicated 
with delight when, with a fawning smile, he threw to them some 
double-meaning observation or ill-naturtd jest ; to the questions 
of the diplomats he gave unctuous answers with imperturbable 
and cold-blooded phlegm. Unclean habits, which in another 
would have been termed plebeian, were in him regarded as 
original ; the distinguished lord from the ancient house of the 
princes of Perigord, the oracle of all the epicures of Europe, the 
habitue of courts, dictated the laws of good society. He had seen 
them all come and go, the ephemeral heroes of a time of con- 
fusion ; he had been acquainted with the tnarquis of the ancien 
regime, with the orators of the revolution, and with the minions 
of the empire. He had seen into the innermost soul of the petty 
(icrman sovereigns during the days when he had been in charge 
of the territorial exchanges of the Rhenish Confederate pohcy, 
always ready to take money from anyone's hand, but good- 
natured as well, obliging to devoted friends, profoundly impressed 
with the truth that one hand must wash the other. Consequently 
he, almost alone among the contemporaries of the old regime, 
had always remained the successful favourite of fortune, and 
was glad to boast that the limping tortoise had after all come 
sooner to the goal than the Napoleonic hare. None knew better 
than he how to spread the opinion that he had been a party to 
all Napoleon's successes and had counselled against every one of 
the emperor's mistakes. He possessed that dignified demeanour 
and secure knowledge of men which were peculiar to the noble 
princes of the Church in the eighteenth century, and was further 
regarded as deeply initiated in all personal secrets of the distin- 
guished world He had been of service to every party ; in the 
celebrated Dictionary of Political Weathercocks, his name indis- 
putably occupied the first place. As indifferently as in his 
episcopal days he had prayed for the salvation of enfranchised 
France, so now did he stand as lord high chamberlain behind the 

Kone of the legitimate king, waving the oriflamme at the coronation 

History of Germany 

festival of the Bourbons. " It has been my invariable experi- 
ence," he said with dignity, " that every system from which I 
detached myself collapsed shortly afterwards," In the depths of 
his soul he had, however, always remained a thorough-going aris- 
tocrat. For this reason he had ever desired an alliance between 
the old powers of Austria and England, for he could get on with 
the proud nobles of these two countries ; whereas the rule of the 
Russian upstarts, and still more the bourgeois-military straight- 
for^^^ardness of the Prussian state, were to him contemptible. 

Thus in Vienna he could, with inward satisfaction, play the 
part which was imposed upon him by the interests of his court; 
he appeared as the representative of the most legitimate of all the 
dynasties, describing boastfully, only a few months before the 
Hundred Days, how firmly established was the power of the French 
royal house, how every threatened right would find protection in 
the Bourbons, and he delighted the empty-headed protagonists of 
the dynastic policy with the cleverly coined catch- word " legiti- 
macy." With an unctuous formality he at once announced the 
three principal aims of Bourbon statecraft, which had already 
been declared in his memorandum. These were : the deposition 
" of the man who rules in Naples " (the name of Murat was never 
allowed to pass the chaste lips of Talleyrand) ; the warding-off 
of the Russian attack upon Poland ; finally, and above all, the 
reinstatement of the king of Saxony. It was in the Saxon nego- 
tiations that the Frenchman's keen insight recognised the wedge 
which was to drive the coalition asunder. Pathetically he spoke 
of the cause of Frederick Augustus as " the cause of all kings " ; 
and expressed his sorrow for unhappy Europe, whose public law 
was so seriously threatened by the violent deeds of Prussia and 


The mere formal leadership of this many-headed and varie- 
gated assembly offered the greatest difficulties, more especially 
since the leading men could for the most part appear only as 
modest assi.stants of the monarchs. Since Russia and Austria 
had deliberately postponed the decision of all contested matters 
until the congress, the great powers were for the moment united 
upon nothing, not even upon the question as to who was entitled 
to take part in the deliberations. Consequently the formal opening 


The Congress of Vienna 

of the congress was at first impossible, nor could there take place 
a common sitting of all its members, nor even an examination of 
credentials ; it was only when a separate understanding had been 
signed that the negotiators exchanged their credentials. 

In order to bring a certain amount of order into this chaos, 
the ministers of the four allied great powers met for preliminary 
deliberations as early as the middle of September, before the 
arrival of the French. The Prussian statesmen jealously main- 
tained the newly acquired position of their state as a great power ; 
anti-French from the foundation, not only did they resist the 
Napoleonides, but they also demanded the enforcement of that 
secret article by which the Bourbon court was excluded from all 
negotiations regarding distribution of territory. For both these 
reasons they endeavoured to exclude the petty states from 
tlie more important deliberations, for the participation of these 
would inevitably strengthen the influence of France. It was in 
this sense that Humboldt drew up a plan for the conduct of 
Ihe business,* which he handed to the "Committee of Four." 
The congress, according to this document, was not a i>eace con- 
gress, for the peace had long been concluded ; and it was not in 
any way a deliberative assembly of Europe, since Europe did not 
exist as a constituted whole. The purpose of the congress was to 
deal with a number of different affairs, which must be treated in 
different ways ; questions of territorial distribution, special con- 
cerns, and institutions which were important for the whole of 
Europe. In the case of the territorial questions, the Polish 
problem was, according to treaty, reserved for the decision of the 
three partitioning powers, but England could play the part of 
mediator in a manner welcome to the other three powers. 
The general principle regarding the distribution of German terri- 
tory was, in accordance with the peace of Paris, the concern of 
the four powers alone ; France, Holland, Denmark, and Switzer- 
land must be kept aloof, because they did not look at the matter 
from the European standpoint ; and Bavaria and Wiirtemberg 
could not be admitted to participation until after the conclu- 
sion of the deliberations. The distribution of Italian territory 
IS a matter for dehberation between Austria, Piedmont, 
le pope, the Bourbons of Sicily, and their protector, England ; 
[urat was excluded. Among the " special concerns," the most 
iportant was the German constitutional question : this was to 

* Humboldt's Proposals for the Management of the Congress, drawn up on 
sptember i8th and following days. 


History of Germany 

be decided by the German states alone, with the addition of 
Denmark (on account of Holstein) ; the Netherlands, which must 
have a say in the matter ; and Switzerland, for a perpetual alli- 
ance between the Germanic Federation and the Swiss Confederacy 
would be " extremely desirable." There thus remained for 
the common deliberations of all the powers, only a few common 
concerns. The chief of these was the constitution of Switzerland, 
since a civil war was imminent in that country. Next came the 
Neapolitan affair ; the ruler of Naples, who was not recognised 
by all the powers, must be deposed. There was the removal of 
Napoleon from Elba, for this fire-brand must not remain in such 
threatening proximity to Europe. Finally, there were the aboli- 
tion of the slave-trade, the regulation of the international navi- 
gation of rivers, and the precedence of the diplomats. These 
affairs of general European import should be discussed by a com- 
mittee and then laid before the whole congress. 

The Prussian proposals immediately encountered vigorous 
resistance, although they were strictly based upon the incon- 
testable legal foundation of the treaty of Paris. Talleyrand had 
long before taken care that his secret memorandum should reach 
the hands of the Hofburg, and the Austrians gratefully recognised 
the praiseworthy designs of the court of the Tuileries regarding 
the Saxon and Polish questions. They now found it most im- 
proper that France should be excluded from any important part 
of the negotiations. Castlereagh agreed with the Austrians, for 
the relations between the courts of Paris and London had been 
continually improving, and Castlereagh on his way to Vienna had 
once more paid a visit to the Tuileries. King Louis esteemed 
the Guelphs even more highly than the Lorrainers, for the 
latter had committed an unpardonable sin against legitimacy by 
the marriage alliance with the Corsican. Russia alone supported 
Prussia. Thus there was a dead-lock, two against two ; and at 
length on September 23rd harmony was reached by the adoption 
of an unfortunate middle course. It was determined that the 
German constitutional questions should be elaborated by a com- 
mittee of the five German royal courts ; that all European affairs 
should be dealt with by the four allied great powers and the two 
Bourbon powers (France and Spain). But the designs for the 
territorial distribution, in accordance with the understanding of 
Paris, was in the first place reserved for the four powers ; these 
were subsequently to communicate their decisions to France and 
Spain, and finally were to inform also the smaller courts. 


The Congress of Vienna 

Obviously this compromise enabled the French to overthrow 
all that had been previously resolved, and Talleyrand, who had 
now appeared upon the scene, was not slow to take advantage 
of the error. On September 30th, when the French minister and 
his devoted friend Don Labrador, the ambassador of the Spanish 
Bourbons, were invited to the Committee of Four in order to learn 
the decision of the four powers, Talleyrand's impassive face lighted 
up with triumph. With incomparable audacity, as if the secret 
article of the Peace of Paris had had no existence, the Frenchman 
demanded that all the states should take part in the negotiations 
of the congress, and by resounding phrases regarding the sacred- 
ness of public law he so greatly confused the ministers of the four 
powers that the sitting was suspended without any decision having 
been arrived at. Not one of the other ambassadors possessed 
sufficient presence of mind to make a quiet appeal to the peace 
of Paris, and thus to nip in the bud the Frenchman's presump- 
tion, which was contrary to the treaty. Hardenberg, owing to 
his unfortunate deafness, could not readily find the right thing 
to say in face of such surprises. Humboldt, however, and the 
Russian plenipotentiary were plainly altogether unprepared for so 
audacious an infringement of the treaty that had so recently been 
signed. Finally, Castlereagh and Metternich, through their secret 
negotiations with the Tuileries, had themselves already broken 
the Peace of Paris. In a theatrically coloured report, which was 
calculated word by word to effect the conspicuous display of the 
superiority of the writer, Talleyrand informed Louis XVIII of 
the victory he had secured. To his Rhenish Confederate friends 
he said proudly : " J'ai su m'asseoir." 

The Frenchman did not at first secure a decisive success. 
In the following sittings he proposed that all sovereigns who had 
not formally declined, including, therefore, Frederick Augustus of 
Saxony, should be admitted to the congress, and that then a number 
of committees should be appointed by the states as a whole. Both 
these proposals were rejected, for they manifested too plainly 
the intention to secure for the French court, as the well-wisher 
of the petty states, the leadership of the congress. Finally it was 
resolved to appoint an executive committee from among the eight 
)wers which had subscribed the peace of Paris. This committee 
eight was the official congress, but it was rarely summoned and 
len only -pro forma, for three of the signatory powers still counted 
)r very little in the society of states. So far Talleyrand had 
iply secured that everything should be shapeless and involved. 


History of Germany 

Without asking the committee of eight, the four allied great powers 
began among themselves confidential negotiations concerning the 
Polish question. 

How notably had Talleyrand's prestige increased within a 
few days ! When he first arrived he had been anxiously avoided 
in the drawing-rooms, and so had his colleague the duke of Dalberg, 
who, as a turn-coat, was in bad repute among the Germans; 
it was only the good-natured Gagern who would speak to the 
neglected man. Now the diplomats eagerly sought favour with 
the clever Frenchman, and most eagerly of all the harassed Saxons. 
It is extremely probable that Talleyrand, like Metternich, had 
received large sums of money from the Saxon court. In these 
circles this was regarded as a perfectly harmless proceeding ; 
Gentz in his diary recorded with a good conscience the sums which 
had been paid to him by the French ambassador. Talleyrand's 
secret intercourse with the imprisoned king was well known to 
the Prussian statesmen,* and he was not accustomed to give his 
friendly services for nothing. Documentary proof of his corrup- 
tion will probably never be attainable, for the accounts of the 
Saxon privy purse were subsequently burned by order of the king 
of Saxony, who doubtless had his reasons. Moreover, the whole 
question is of importance only to the scandal-monger or to the 
minor moralist, and not to the serious historian. Talleyrand's 
venality is universally known, and is not denied even by his 
panegyrist Hans von Gagern ; it is therefore indifferent how often 
and from whom he received bribes. To the Saxon court, how- 
ever, the disgrace attaches of this continuance of the ancient 
policy of treason ; and whether money was or was not paid on this 
account is of no importance. These tainted negotiations remained 
altogether without influence upon the course of the congress ; 
it was not the money of the Albertines but the well understood 
interest of their own states which determined the attitude of the 
Austrian and of the Bourbon statesmen. The French ambassador 
in Berlin declared openly to everyone that Frederick Augustus 
of Saxony had been the most faithful ally of France, and that 
France could not desert him. 

At the same time, Talleyrand played the part of the mag- 
nanimous protector of the German sovereigns. The petty princes 
were all in an evil humour ; in Vienna there was no prospect of 
territorial enlargements, and the natural predominance of the 
great powers made itself strongly felt. With masterly skill 

* liumbuldt to Mardenbcrg, January 27, 18 15. 

The Congress of Vienna 

Talleyrand availed himself of this ill-humour of the middle-sized 
states ; he alleged that the whole fabric of public law was put 
in question if the rulers of Bavaria and Wiirtemberg could not 
have the same voice in the reordering of Europe as had Prussia 
or Russia. Consequently within a brief period he restored his 
humiliated country to its traditional position as leader of the 
German petty states. It was with good reason that the French 
esteemed their adroit negotiator. King Louis overwhelmed him 
with praise, and felt himself entirely satisfied when the minister 
wrote pathetically that it seemed to him very unseemly that here 
in Vienna three or four kings and a number of princes could be 
found at a dance in the house of a private individual, adding, 
" One must go to France in order to see kingship in that glory 
and dignity which make it appear at once sublime and lovable 
in the eyes of the people ! " Alexander, however, said : " Talley- 
rand is playing here the role of minister of Louis XIV ! " This 
was an apt mot which has since then been frequently applicable 
to the neo-French policy. 

In barely a fortnight after that stormy sitting Gentz had com- 
pletely reconciled himself wilh the audacious Frenchman. The 
czar, too, summoned this dangerous opponent on several occa- 
sions to secret conversations regarding Poland, and thus gave 
him the right to intrude into the Polish negotiations. Above all, 
the German petty states thronged zealously around the magnani- 
mous man who so expressly advocated the equal rights of Russia 
and of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. Victorious Germany had 
now to endure the disgrace that her high nobility should once 
more seek the favour of a French subordinate official, as they had 
sought it in the days of German defeat. Just as the petty lords 
had in the year 1803 gone to Matthieu, and three years later to 
old Pfeffel, as place-hunters, so now they abased themselves in 
the modest room before Talleyrand's confidential adviser, the 
same La Besnardi^re who, seven years before, had in Poland 
practised the art of estabUshing German fatherlands. The 
most clamorous were the Bavarians ; on the journey to Vienna, 
Talleyrand had had a conversation with Montgelas in Baden, 
fven Charles Augustus of Weimar could not lift himself above the 
jntiment of cousinly participation, and did not until a late date 
raw back from the Albertines, when he saw through the unclean 
rrieres pensees of the Saxon party. Busily did the French nego- 
itors retail all kinds of arrogant utterances which were supposed 
have been heard in the Prussian camp. The newspapers of 


History of Germany 

Paris reported that " the insolent behaviour of the Prussian 
generals in Vienna " had repelled even the warmest friends of the 
land-hungry state, whereas of all the notable Prussian generals 
the only one present in Vienna was the dignified and cautious 

The objections to Prussia's Saxon plans raised by historians 
at a later date, had occurred to no one in the year 1814. To us 
to-day it appears a weak idea that the imprisoned king should not 
be simply dethroned, and that he should be compensated else- 
where with land and people ; but the allotting of such compensa- 
tion seemed a matter of course to the sentiments of those days, 
and if it had not been proposed to give it, the Prussian plan would 
have appeared to the other courts far more ruthless. The learned 
man of to-day may well think that Frederick Augustus was hardly 
more blameworthy than the king of Bavaria, upon whom favours 
were now heaped ; but neither Max Joseph nor Talleyrand 
advanced such reasons in excuse of their Saxon prot^g^. Nor 
did the sober-minded statesmen in Vienna ever think about the 
reputed services of the Wettins on behalf of Grerman civilisation. 
The party contrast which manifested itself in the Austrian capital 
was far simpler. On one side was the desire of the young Ger- 
man great power to provide for its lacerated and threatened terri- 
tory a tenable southern frontier, and at the same time to give the 
treasonable sentiments of the Rhenish Confederate courts a whole- 
some warning ; on the other side was the traditional enmity of 
Austria and France for the state wherein they obscurely perceived 
the culture-ground of German unity, and there was the dynastic 
envy of the petty courts. The House of Wettin was a " house " 
like that of Wittelsbach and that of Wiirtemberg, and all the 
thoughts of the petty princes were centred in the preservation 
of the power of their houses. Talleyrand speedily recognised how 
to gather round himself all the forces of resistance, and he did not 
conceal his view that the fate of Frederick Augustus was far nearer 
to his heart than the destiny of Poland. The Rheinische Mcrkur 
wrote wamingly that the Napoleonic bees and wasps were still 
hidden among the Bourbon lilies. That great European alliance 
which assembled under the banner of France, gave the Saxon 
negotiations a historical significance far greater than the value 
of the country that was in dispute. The Prussian state now 
learned, as at the time of the Silesian war, that the whole world 
was united in fighting Prussia. 

Meanwhile the prisoner of Friedrichsfelde played with con- 


The Congress of Vienna 

siderablc ability, and certainly in good faith, the part of 
profoundly injured innocence. All his life he had conscientiously 
taken his stand upon the ground of positive law, and as long as the 
Holy Empire had persisted he had precisely fulfilled his duties as 
an imperial prince. But the idea that the sovereign king of 
Saxony could possibly sin against Germany, remained altogether 
incomprehensible to his intelligence. In the summer of 1814 he 
sent a memorial to the czar, setting out in absolute seriousness 
the compensations which Saxony had a right to demand from 
Prussia ! The landless king magnanimously demanded from the 
conqueror no more than the Beeskow-Storkow circle, a few 
Prussian enclaves, and favourable assistance for the Saxon 
negotiations ; in addition, compensation for Warsaw. However 
preposterous this bungling piece of work may appear, it constituted 
a suitable prelude to a second memorial which was printed at 
Nuremberg in July, with the approval of the Bavarian govern- 
ment. In this it was stated that the king had heard with the 
utmost astonishment a report that the allies were proposing to 
deprive him of his hereditary dominions ; he feared that he would 
do wrong to the exalted powers if he were to place any credence 
in such a calumny. Next the conduct of the Saxon court was 
justified, all errors having been due to force prSponderante (such 
was the phrase now used by the great ally) ; and ^vith all the 
self-satisfied frankness of the German petty prince, the apt truth 
found expression that " great states alone can remain faithful to 
their ideals." Frederick Augustus then declared to all the courts 
that he would never agree to abdicate, and in an autograph letter 
of September 19th appealed for help to Louis XVIII. His 
envoy in Vienna, Count Schulenburg, was not indeed admitted 
to the negotiations of the congress, and in the dehberations of the 
committee on the German constitution the king of Saxony was 
regarded as non-existent. But Wrede serviceably reported to the 
Saxon all that was worth knowing. At the same time Prince Antony 
treated secretly with his brother-in-law, Emperor Francis : the 
Saxon Langenau was the most intimate confidant of Gentz. The 
cause of the Albert ines gained ground day by day. 

Among the Saxon people, too, the condition was very 
[different from what the chancellor imagined. A number of far- 
[sighted Saxon nobles had sided with the general government of 
p^rince Repnin. Among these were Carlowitz, Miltitz, Oppell, 
^ieth, and some of the higher officials, such as Schiller's friend, 
le father of Theodor Korner. With their aid, the Russian 

33 D 

History of Germany 

administration had done excellent work ; within a brief time it 
had uprooted a number of obsolete abuses. Among the bourgeoisie 
there existed a small Prussian party, for the merchants of Leipzig 
had long been out of humour with the rule of the nobles. It was 
from the existence of these friendly circles that Stein and Harden- 
berg derived their hopeful view of the mood of the country. In 
reality the mass of the people was in a condition of profound 
languor, exhausted by the tribulations of the war. Under the 
rule of the nobles, the population had been disaccustomed to political 
thought ; like all Germans, in all ages, they regarded a tribal 
princely house as an indispensable jewel of the fatherland in the 
narrower sense, but at first they remained passive and equable. 
There were only two notable Saxons who took part in the lively 
paper warfare which accompanied the diplomatic struggle con- 
cerning the future of Saxony : Carl Miiller, who wrote from the 
Prussian point of view ; while Kohlschiitter was representative 
of the servile officialdom. One party alone displayed lively 
activity, that of the oligarchs of the high nobility. They had 
ruled the land for centuries, and the strong hand of the Prussian 
kingship threatened to reduce them to the rank of ordinary sub- 
jects. As long as the war continued, the court nobility and the 
higher officials had remained on terms of intimate friendship with 
the numerous French prisoners in Dresden ; their emissaries 
exercised an influence over the Saxon troops in Rhineland ; 
they kept up a lively correspondence with the friendly diplomats 
in Vienna ; accustomed to dominate, they knew how to browbeat 
the docile populace to [^such an extent that the great majority 
soon united in the cry, " Let us have our king back again ! " 
People began to stigmatise as renegades the excellent men who 
were at the head of the provisional administration. A few years 
ago there was still living in the poorhouse at Wahren an old man 
who was popularly spoken of as " the traitor " ; during the bloody 
battle at Mockem, he had guided a Prussian battalion along a 
hidden pathway. 

In the memory of the people the image of recent events 
gradually became distorted ; the king's sins were forgotten, and 
the change in side of the troops during the battle of Leipzig was 
soon regarded as simply a shameful desertion of the flag. A par- 
tition of the country seemed, indeed, even less desirable than 
incorix)ration in the Prussian state. Appeals were made to the 
czar, who to Saxon deputations had repeatedly guaranteed " the 
integrity of their country." Such was the lack of poHtical per- 


The Congress of Vienna 

ception among the masses that they failed to recognise that this 
integrity was possible only if the former king did not return. The 
favourable news from Vienna increased the immeasvu^ble self- 
esteem which lies in the very nature of particularism ; the Saxons 
cheerfully expected that the whole of Europe would take up arms 
in order to restore to the imprisoned Albertine the last of his vil- 
lages. It is true that the leaders of the particularist party had 
more insight than this, but they would rather continue the ancient 
supremacy of the nobles in a diminished Saxony than subject 
themselves to the common law of the Prussian state. Prince 
Rcpnin, the governor-general, wrote after the catastrophe sharply 
and aptly to his assistant, the able councillor Merian : " My com- 
plaint against the higher officials is that, just Uke myself, they 
were convinced that the return of the king could not be effected 
without the dismemberment of their country. These egoists 
preferred a disaster to the fatherland to the loss of their personal 
advantages. The Saxons wanted their prince back again, and by 
their behaviour gave moral support to the aim of that power 
which regarded the partition of Saxony as advantageous." * 

Such was the position of affairs when the four powers began 
their indefinite negotiations concerning Poland. Hardenberg was 
still unable to see that his Saxon hopes must inevitably be ruined 
if in the Polish negotiations he worked hand in hand with Austria 
and England. Either the czar would yield to the resistance of 
the three united courts, and in that case the Prussian crown would 
be once more encumbered by her faithful ally with those Pohsh 
possessions which Prussia herself regarded as dangerous, and 
Prussia would at the same time lose all claim to compensation 
in Saxony ; or else both jxirties would agree upon a compromise, 
and this issue seemed the more probable, since at this moment 
neither Austria nor England desired war. For it could be antici- 
pated with certainty that Alexander, if embittered by Prussia's 
I»pposition, would no longer support the Saxon claims of the Prussian 
ourt. Abandoned on all sides, our state, if it were unwilling to 
lenture a struggle against the whole of Europe, would be forced 
content itself with a strip of land along the Warthe and \vith 
, few fragments of Lusatia. So simple was the calculation. 
Mettemich's first task was to delude the chancellor about the 
inseparable connection between the Polish question and the Saxon ; 
to postpone the solution of the Saxon problem ; and for the 
moment, in unison with Prussia and England, to resist Alexander's 

^ Repnin to Merian, Vienna, February 15-25, 1815. 



History of Germany 

designs. In this way the aUiance between Russia and Prussia 
would be broken, and the humiUation of the North German power 
would be assured. The snare was astonishingly clumsy. As 
early as September, Gentz wrote hopefully to Karadja that if it 
were but possible to restrict Russia's enlargement in what had 
formerly been Prussian Poland, the sole ground for the annexation 
of Saxony would be removed ! 

In actual fact the attention of the Prussian statesmen was 
almost completely engaged in Polish affairs. The generals were 
unanimous in demanding an eastern frontier that should be tenable 
from the military point of view. Humboldt's wish was that 
Prussia should act on behalf of the threatened European balance 
of power. With the certainty of genius Stein declared to the 
czar that the construction of a PoUsh kingdom under the Russian 
sceptre would lead, either to the detachment of Poland from 
Russia, or else to the complete subjection of the Poles. In 
Hardenberg's entourage could be found certain eloquent friends of 
the Poles ; among these were the amiable prince Anton Radziwill, 
and the privy councillor Zerboni, a talented Hberal and an 
enthusiastic admirer of Sarmatian freedom. To the chancellor 
himself, the advance of Russia westward seemed far less dangerous 
than the re-establishment of the kingdom of Poland and the 
threatening Polish propaganda. All these tendencies, however 
fundamentally divergent, coincided in the idea that Alexander's 
plans must be resisted, and the question was not even seriously 
mooted how in that case Prussia's own claims could be secured. 

The czar was, however, somewhat alarmed by the unanimous 
opposition of the court of St. Petersburg, and he began to doubt 
whether he could expect the Russians to accept the union of 
Lithuania with Poland ; nevertheless he held obstinately to his idea 
of the re -establishment of the Polish kingdom. In Vienna, he 
immediately and openly proposed that the whole of Warsaw as 
far as the Prosna, including Thorn and Cracow, should be handed 
over to the Russian imperial house as an independent kingdom. 
At the same time he warmly supported Prussia's claims upon 
Saxony, and on September 28lh he gave a formal pledge to hand 
over the administration of Die country to Prussia without delay, 
In the German constitutional question, too, he expressly advocated 
the Prussian plans ; he did not conceal how profoundly he 
despised the self-seeking of the Rhenish Confederate courts, but 
he prudently avoided all intrusive intervention. Capodistrias also 
ardently desired the consolididion of the Germanic Federation, 


The Congress of Vienna 

and the younger Alopeus, Alexander's ambassador in Berlin, was a 
fervent admirer of Prussian military renown. In a word, Russia's 
attitude towards Prussia remained thoroughly friendly, although 
Prussia had not as yet pledged herself in any way to support the 
Polish plans of the czar. It seemed indisputable that, by an open 
advance to the side of the czar, Hardenberg could secure an under- 
standing also about Thorn and Kulmerland, and could secure 
the unqualified adhesion of the two powers. But the chancellor 
remained upon the side of Metternich, hoping that England 
and Austria would, like Russia, agree to the provisional occupa- 
tion of Saxony by Prussia. 

The king regarded the chancellor's poHcy with some anxiety, 
and considered that the immediate occupation of Saxony would 
be a premature step, for he himself, less sanguine than Harden- 
berg, drew the right conclusion from the behaviour of Emperor 
P'rancis, that Austria would with difficulty be induced to coun- 
tenance the expulsion of the Albertines. Had it been possible 
to effect the occupation a year earlier, immediately after the 
battle of Leipzig, this would have been an effective means of 
paving the way for complete annexation. In the existing posture 
of affairs, immediately before the decision of the congress, the occu- 
pation no longer offered any advantage, but exposed Russia to 
the danger of humiliation in case she should not prove to be in 
a position to retain the whole of the occupied territory. For 
this reason, the king opposed the step. Yet he had too httle 
confidence in his own judgment, especially where diplomatic 
questions were concerned ; he unwilhngly let the chancellor follow 
his own counsel, and subsequently, when Hardenberg's plans 
came to nought, the king said angrily, after his manner : "I told 
you so, but you all wanted to be wiser." But when Hardenberg 
proposed to nominate Prince WiUiam as viceroy of Saxony, 
Frederick William immediately refused, for he would not expose 
any of the personalities of the royal house to humihating defeat. 
The reasonable anxieties of his royal master did not disturb 

le chancellor's self-satisfaction. In alliance with Metternich he 
jipened his diplomatic campaign against the czar. Upon the 

ivitation of the three partitioning powers, England undertook 
mediate, and hardly ever in the whole history of modem 

iplomacy was any negotiator so stupid and clumsy as the noble 

)rd, of whom his political associates were accustomed to say : 
For all good things we must thank God and Castlereagh." 

[e was to mediate, and he conducted himself as a partisan, 


History of Germany 

immediately putting forward demands which went far beyond the 
wishes of Austria and Prussia. The simplest consideration of 
propriety demanded that he should display moderation, for in 
accordance with the wording of the treaties England had no right 
to intervene in the PoHsh negotiations ; and yet from the first he 
assumed an aggressive tone which no crowned head, and least 
of all the excessive conceit of Alexander, could possibly tolerate. 
In his very first memorandum of October 4th he hurled at the 
czar the accusation that Russia's procedure was in absolute opposi- 
tion to the letter and to the spirit of the treaties — a plainly false 
assertion, for Alexander had wisely guarded himself against giving 
any binding pledges whatever. Castlereagh was even audacious 
enough to falsify the intentions of his principals, and declared 
that Austria and Prussia would gladly greet the re-estabhshment 
of a completely independent Polish realm, a view in absolute 
conflict with the opinions of the courts both of Vienna and of 

The only excuse for this unprecedented conduct was to be 
found in Castlereagh 's profound ignorance ; it was quite obvious 
that he had no idea as to what the independence of Poland 
really signified. With ingenuous self-satisfaction, he wrote to 
Welhngton in Paris saying that the vigorous language of his 
memorandum could not fail to make an impression upon the czar. * 
Still more plainly was manifested the incapacity of this remark- 
able mediator in his second memorandum of October 14th. 
Here he demanded that Austria, if possible in unison with Prussia, 
should submit the following proposals to the czar : Either the 
re-establishment of the free realm of Poland under an independent 
prince, as it had existed before 1772 ; or, if this were unattainable, 
the re-establishment of the status quo of 1791 ; or, in the last 
resort, a partition of the duchy of Warsaw in such a way that 
Prussia should receive all the country as far as the Vistula, whilst 
Russia should retain merely the narrow strip to the cast of this 
river. Whilst Hardcnbcrg had never asked more for Prussia 
than the line of the Warthe, this Englishman, who was supposed 
to be speaking in l^*russia's name, wished to burden our state once 
more with almost the whole of its ancient Polish dominion, and 
he even declared that I'russia was prepared " to make all neces- 
sary sacrifices " for the rc-cstablishmcnt of tlic Poland of 1771 — 
that is to say, to hand over once again to the Sarmatians the 
Marienburg and the Vistular territories of the Teutonic Knights ! 
^ Goltz'a Kciwrt, Paris, October 21, Z814. 

The Congress of Vienna 

Nay more, Castlereagh demanded that all the documents 
exchanged in the Polish negotiations should be laid before the 
congress, and that all the European states should be asked to oppose 
the designs of Russia. In his blind zeal he thus adopted the 
guileless Talleyrand's proposals, and desired, in opposition to the 
treaties, to draw all the petty states into the Pohsh negotiations, 
which would have involved making France the arbiter of 
Europe ! In a third memorandum, dated November 4th, he 
permitted himself the use of language which at other times could 
only have been heard just before the outbreak of war. He 
declared that the intentions of the czar " threw to the ground 
all the accepted principles of international loyalty and faith," 
and he asserted once more that a Russian emperor who ruled as 
far as the Prosna could at his will hurl his armies against the 
Danube and the Oder, and hold Austria and Prussia completely 
in check. 

It seemed as if Castlereagh desired to stimulate the czar 
to the extremity of resistance. Alexander was in fact pro- 
foundly affronted ; and in two memorials, dated October 30th 
and November 21st, he bluntly rejected the proposal. In high- 
sounding words he developed the views which have since then 
remained dominant in semi-official Russian histories. In the 
spring of 1813, he said, Russia could readily have concluded a 
glorious peace, and had continued the struggle only on behalf 
of Europe. The enlargement Russia demanded was not a menace 
for Russia's neighbours but was essential to content the Russians 
as well as the Poles. Therewith came a well-deserved snub for 
Castlereagh : "A mediator is useful only when he brings 
people nearer together ! " If matters should be carried further 
on such lines, the world, which was yearning for peace, would soon 
be driven into a new war. 

Meanwhile the Prussian chancellor was far from comfortable 
in the society of his strange allies. He saw the British 
mediator making demands which had no longer anything in com- 
mon with Prussia's own views, and yet he himself was still far 
from certain whether his faithful friends would support him in 
his Saxon plans. Hardenberg therefore resolved to obtain cer- 
tainty, and on October gth sent a cordial letter to Mettemicb 
to the following effect : Prussia desired to remain faithful to the 
system " d'une Europe intermediaire " (that is to say, to the 
system of a closer alliance of the three " German " great powers), 

Imbut in her present insecure situation she must think first of her 

History of Germany 

own interests, and therefore desired a plain answer to three ques- 
tions. Would Austria agree to the Prussian annexation of the 
whole of Saxony ? Did the Austrian imperial government approve 
of the transference of Frederick Augustus to the Legations ? Did 
Austria renounce the idea of handing Mainz over to Bavaria ? 
(Concerning this intention, which two months before had been 
still unknown to Humboldt, Hardenberg had at length arrived 
at a clear understanding.) If the Austrian imperial government 
would answer these three questions in the affirmative, ^and would 
at the same time promise to give a firm support to Prussia's inten- 
tions in respect of Mainz and Saxony, then, said Hardenberg, 
" I shall be able to act in the fullest understanding with you in 
respect of the Polish question." Last of all Metternich was asked 
to agree at once to the provisional occupation of Saxony. The 
same request was made to Castlereagh. Hardenberg still hoped 
that his Austrian friend would magnanimously give to him Saxony, 
and in addition the Polish territory for which Saxony was to 
serve as a compensation ! 

Castlereagh answered on October nth, approved the pro- 
visional occupation, and declared that his court would also agree 
to the complete annexation of Saxony. England desired the 
entire re-establishment of the Prussian power, and the chastise- 
ment of the political immorality of Frederick Augustus. He 
continued, in exceedingly bad French : "If this annexation should 
be effected as a means to compensate the Prussian state for the 
losses which it might suffer through the disquieting and dangerous 
enterprise of Russia, and as a means to place Prussia with unde- 
fended frontiers in manifest dependence upon Russia," then he 
could not hold out any prospect of the assent of England. What 
was the meaning of this rigmarole ? Prussia declared : First give 
us a guarantee for the possession of Saxony, only then can we 
venture to break the alliance with Russia and to support your Polish 
plnns. Castlereagh replied : " First bring it about that Russia 
will not advance her western frontier too far, and then we will 
agree to your annexation of Saxony." Thus Castlereagh simply 
turned the Prussian demand upside down and attached an 
imix)ssiblc condition to his assent. Since at this moment none 
of the three powers desired war with Russia, it was plainly not 
witliin the power of Prussia alone to effect a moderation of the 
Russian demands ; and yet the Prussian enlargement was to be 
made dependent upon this seaseless condition, whereas the gains 
of Austria in Italy had secured the unconditional assent of Eng- 


The Congress of Vienna 

land ! Ihis extraordinary conlradictoriness makes so ambiguous 
an impression, that the involuntary suspicion arises that Metter- 
nich or Miinster must have guided the noble lord's pen. Never- 
theless the clumsy English statesman was beyond question acting 
in good faith, and was by no means hostile towards Prussia ; just 
as little as Hardenberg did he understand that, in the existing 
situation, Prussia was forced to choose between Warsaw and 
Saxony, and could not possibly demand both at the same time. 

Hardenberg's plain enquiries put the Austrian statesmen 
in a position of painful embarrassment. Gentz wished straight- 
way to break with Prussia and Russia ; more passionately than ever 
did he rage against the greed of the Prussian revolutionaries, and 
against Alexander's tutor, Laharpe, who so audaciously displayed 
his liberal principles ; more confidential than ever became his 
intercourse with Talleyrand and Langenau. Mettemich saw 
further. He realised that it was not yet time to drop the mask, 
and wished to keep his credulous Piussian friend a prey to the 
latter's fine illusion until Prussia had herself broken with Russia 
and stood completely alone ; for this reason he was inclined to 
agree to the provisional occupation of Saxony. A few days later, 
on October 14th, Gentz himself was brought over by Castlereagh's 
persuasion to the views of his calmer friend. Austria agreed that 
Prussian troops should enter Saxony — sans reconnattre le principe, 
as Gentz added with satisfaction. This indication of good feeling 
strengthened the Prussian chancellor in his artless confidence, 
and yet Metternich was left free for the ultimate decision. 

All the more difficult became the answer to Hardenberg's 
three questions, and Metternich was not ready to reply until 
October 22nd. The second of the Prussian questions, that relat- 
ing to the transference of Frederick Augustus to the Legations, 
was ignored in the Austrian reply, and this, in accordance with 
^ancient diplomatic custom, was tantamount to an unconditional 
refusal. The third question, that regarding Mainz, was answered 
nth a definite negative. This place, which in the year 1797 
Emperor Francis had himself sacrificed to the French in exchange 
for Venice, was now declared by Metternich to be the only for- 
tress which hindered a march upon the Danube, and to be the 
)nly commercial centre which gave Austria access to the northern 
ias — ^an astonishing claim which was expUcable only in view of 
the still more astonishing geographical and economic ideas of 
le imperial statesman. " Never," he said, " will the emperor 
renounce Mainz." If the Germanic Federation were to be subjected 


History of Germany 

to the equally balanced influence of Austria and Prussia, and 
if the legitimate claims of South Germany were to be satis- 
fied, Prussia must not advance beyond the left bank of the Moselle. 
Thus even Coblenz was now refused to the Prussian friend, and the 
most untenable of all the German river frontiers was offered ! 
To Hardenberg's first question, finally, Metternich rephed, that 
it was only with pain that the emperor could witness the dethrone- 
ment of one of the oldest royal races ; the annexation was opposed 
to Austrian interests, and among the German princes could not 
fail to arouse mistrust of Prussia and to give rise to complaints 
against Austria ; the emperor hoped that Prussia would leave 
the imprisoned king at least a portion of land on the Bohemian 
frontier. " If, however, the force of circumstances should render 
the annexation of Saxony unavoidable," then Austria would 
reserve for herself the right of discretion regarding the fortresses 
and frontier places, regarding commerce and navigation. The 
emperor counted on "an unconditional agreement upon proce- 
dure " between the two courts in respect of Polish affairs, and on 
an understanding regarding the common carrying out of the 
" luminous " memorial of Castlereagh. Metternich, in addition, 
permitted himself the unbecoming observation that the personal 
feeUngs of King Frederick William ought not to be allowed to stand 
in the way of a sound policy. 

On receipt of this reply a resolute Prussian statesman should 
immediately have recognised that there was no dependence to be 
placed upon the two allies, and that a firm adhesion to the side of 
Russia was essential. Of the three Prussian conditions, Metternich 
had flatly refused two ; and anyone who knew how little even a 
decisive assent signified in this mouth, might easily reckon 
what the unwilling, confused, and half-hearted assent to the 
third condition was really worth. Was it not obvious that " the 
force of circumstances would no longer render the annexation of 
Saxony unavoidable," if Prussia were to retain the greater part of 
Warsaw ? Metternich, however, counted upon the credulous 
confidence of his Prussian friend, and was delighted with the 
adroitness with which he had concealed his thoughts. Gcntz, 
also, was in agreement witli his friend's documentary achievement, 
and prophesied at Wicdc's table that within a fortnight the sys- 
tem of European alliances would have been disarranged — meaning 
that a rapprochement between Austria and France would have 
been effected. 

It was Gcntz who had persuaded Metternich to give so dis- 


The Congress of Vienna 


linct a negative in the matter oi Mainz : his angry feeling was 
that Mainz must be saved from Prussian greed even though it 
should entail an alHance with France. This view iound support in 
the undying tendency of our petty princes to do anything other 
than that which was plainly expedient, and always to entrust the 
threatened parts of the fatherland to the weakest hands. The 
Ernestine courts, Nassau and Hesse, declared on October 25th 
that this important fortress should not be handed over to any of 
the greater states, neither to Bavaria nor to Prussia ; it belonged 
to Germany as a whole. It was resolved to estabUsh a new 
Teutonic Order for the protection of the fortress on the Rhine. So 
general was the opposition to the estabhshment of Prussian power 
upon the Middle Rhine, that Baron von Stein at length conceived 
the artificial plan of instaUing the crown-prince of Wiirtemberg 
in Mainz, as German field-marshal. Anyone who chose to open 
his eyes could perceive from other indications that Austria was 
antagonistic to Prussia. The map, shown to Mettemich in abso- 
lute confidence, displaying that " isthmus " of southern Hano- 
verian territory which Prussia demanded to connect the eastern 
with the western provinces, had been, as Miinster himself related, 
betrayed to the Guelph diplomats by the Austrian statesman. 

Simultaneously with the reply to Hardenberg (October 22nd) 
Metternich declared, in a despatch to Castlereagh, that it was 
only with extreme unwillingness that Austria could allow the 
destruction of a buffer state which had so often proved 
useful to the balance of power in Germany and in Europe ; but 
if the annexation of Saxony was regarded by the aUies as 
unavoidable, then Austria would accept this severe sacrifice upon 
the twofold condition, that the balance of power in Germany 
should not be disturbed by the advance of Prussia southward of 
the Moselle, and that the annexation " should not constitute a 
precedent for demanding assent to further enlargements of terri- 
tory." The almost verbal coincidence of this obscure sentence 
with Castlereagh's note of October nth suggests the idea that 
the noble lord had in this confused intrigue been no more than 
an innocent tool in the hands of Metternich. The Austrian states- 
man regarded the game as already won, and was so sure of the 
blind assent of the Prussian chancellor that, in a new note of 
November 2nd, he even demanded that Prussia should, in unison 
with Austria, support the preposterous Polish programme of Lord 
astlereagh. Prussia was to demand, either the restoration of 
he Polish realm of 1771, or the status quo of 1791, or at least the 


History of Germany 

partition of Poland by the line of the Vistula ! This " at least " 
was obviously the true aim of the Hofburg. Prussia's states- 
men must indeed be stricken with blindness if they did not 
even yet observe that Austria was everywhere, in Saxony, in 
Poland, and on the Rhine, pursuing aims which absolutely con- 
flicted with those of Prussia. 

Yet it was still some time before the eyes of the chancellor 
and of Humboldt were opened. It is astonishing to note how the 
two able men turned hither and thither in order to avoid seeing 
what lay obviously before them, the disloyal game played by 
the Hofburg. Immediately after the receipt of the Austrian 
note of October 22nd, Uvely discussions began in the Prussian 
cabinet. On October 23rd Humboldt put together the leading 
ideas for an answer to the Austrian note.^ In this he still speaks 
quite without mistrust, reiterates all the grounds that favour 
the annexation of Saxony ; Prussia's claim to compensation based 
upon the treaties, and the need that " a political demonstration 
should be given that a prince cannot escape punishment if 
he act against the interests of the nation to which his people 
belongs." The treaty of Kalisz and the enlargement of Russia 
in Poland were undesirable but unavoidable consequences of the 
situation — " of the false system by which the excessive power 
of the west was fought by the east. Precisely in order that this 
might not recur, the powers of Central Europe, and especially 
Prussia, must be strengthened." Scattered domains in Poland, 
Germany, or Belgium, did not suffice to effect this strengthening ; 
the great powers must not be treated as mere numerical values. 
Consequently the annexation of Saxony was a sacrifice to be made 
by Austria, not to the Prussian alliance, but on behalf of the 
European balance of power ; a partition of the country seemed 
altogether unacceptable. Next Humboldt discussed the Mainz 
question and declared : " Since we regard the place as necessary 
lor the defence of Germany against France, we have only to 
demand that Bavaria shall gain no influence over Mainz, unless 
this state should openly and honourably adhere to the Germanic 
Federation, and should renounce the right of independent war- 
making." Tliis inalienable right of Bavaria as a European power 
had, during the last few days, been boastingly advocated by Wrcde 
in the committee on the German constitution. Humboldt, how- 
ever, continued, with imperturbable moderation, that if Bavaria 

* liumboldt'tt Memorandum regarding Prince Mottcrnich's letter, October 
33. 18x4. 


The Congress of Vienna 

should exhibit a better sentiment towards the Germanic Federa- 
tion, " we must endeavour to win over this court instead of 
regarding it with suspicion." Finally, the question of the Moselle 
frontier was purely a statistical one ; it could easily be dealt with 
if Austria should agree to accept the results of Prussian territorial 
negotiations with the minor German states. 

Thus Humboldt continued to see in the Hofburg the loyal 
but unfortunately somewhat weak friend who must be furnished 
with reasonable arguments in support of his praiseworthy resolves ; 
he himself hoped to convert the Bavarians, who were already 
without concealment preaching war against Prussia ; finally, in 
order to keep Austria in a good humour, he wished to give up 
Mainz and to abandon the right bank of the Moselle. The town 
of Coblenz itself was, indeed, not included in this concession. 

Two days later the mood of the Prussian cabinet was already 
less friendly. It is obvious that in the meanwhile the English 
and Austrian despatches had been examined more closely, and 
no doubt something had been learned of the secret intercourse 
between Gentz and Talleyrand. Perhaps the king himself may 
have remarked to his diplomats that the agreement of the Hof- 
burg to the annexation of Saxony was a very indefinite one, and 
that Lord Castlereagh's Polish plans went far beyond Prussia's 
own wishes. However this may be, a second memorial from 
Humboldt to Hardenberg^ displays lively anxiety ; it gives a 
very striking picture of the brilliant mind of its author, fur- 
nishes a broad exposition of the wealth of his ideas, which come 
to Hght in mutual opposition, and yet in the end does not 
effect a plain, clear, and unambiguous utterance. Humboldt has 
examined Castlereagh's proposals, and now at length propounds 
the obvious idea that the frontier question and the constitutional 
question must be kept distinct. It is undesirable to oppose the 
Polish constitutional plans of the czar ; for " Alexander cer- 
tainly finds himself in a position of great embarrassment if he 
wishes to carry out what he appears to have promised to the Poles, 
and the powers will increase this embarrassment if they fail to 
offer to his views an opposition which must not be too decisively 
expressed. Regarded from this point of view, the proposed 
Polish constitution is perhaps an antidote to the disadvantages 
which arise from the successful enlargement of Russia." Regard- 
ing the frontier question he remarks that hitherto Prussia has 

ti Humboldt's Memorial sur le mimoire de Lord Castlereagh, October 25, 
, 45 

History of Germany 

never asked more than the Une of the Warthe with Thorn and 
Cracow, and that the occasionally voiced demand for the Vistular 
frontier has never been seriously made. A prudent moderation 
is requisite to avoid the danger of " bringing about a breach, and 
of leading to an appeal to Europe — ^that is to say, above all, to 
France against Europe. France will always take advantage of 
disputes, especially with the aim of rendering perpetual the dis- 
sensions between the cabinets, in order to derive a casual profit 
therefrom, and subsequently to sacrifice us and to come to an 
understanding with Russia, as soon as the private interests of the 
French nation have been gratified." 

He then turns to consider Prussia's peculiar position. In 
addition to what Russia offered, Prussia demanded only Thorn 
and some half-German areas ; Austria, on the other hand, 
demanded the important Cracow, which the Poles would never 
surrender. Thus the gain for Austria was incomparably greater, 
whereas we, on account of more trifling advantages, ran the 
danger of breaking with Russia, and of finding ourselves in an 
extremely embarrassing situation. Deserving of very serious 
consideration, too, was " the manner in which Austria has agreed 
to the annexation of Saxony. Instead of saying loudly and boldly 
that the imperial government will defend Prussia's cause against 
all, she agrees only with reluctance, as if out of complaisance, and 
wishes us to buy this favour by other and most grievous sacrifices. 
It must be plainly conceded to be as very doubtful whether 
we shall not sacrifice the true and permanent interests of Prussia 
to a purely temporary advantage, if in the Polish affair we go 
hand in hand with Austria. It must rather be admitted that 
Prussia would in that case sacrifice her personal interests in the 
cause of Europe. But Prussia must always act in accordance 
with principles and must never seek simple convenience." 
Prussia's demand, he went on, was that, in the establishment of 
the frontiers claimed by Russia, the allied powers should take 
into account Prussia's difficult situation ; in such a way that 
they " should defend the cause of Prussia and of her new acquisi- 
tions, openly and vigorously against all other powers ; that they 
themselves should undertake the task of conscientiously carry- 
ing out the treaties which secured for Prussia complete re-estab- 
lishment and even moderate enlargement of territory ; that, 
finally, they should agree formally to our occupation of the strip 
of land without which we should remain dependent upon Russia." 
If the powers should refuse to give these pledges then, indeed, 


The Congress of Vienna 

ftussia would not follow a policy she herself condemns, but would 
to her great regret feel compelled " to think first of her own self- 
preservation." Once more, in conclusion, Prussia must yield in 
the constitutional question, and must demand only the Warthe 
line ; should Alexander refuse, the three powers could not con- 
clude any treaty with him, but must leave the question open, 
and must definitely declare themselves unable to change their 
views ; but in this case also they must hold as far aloof as possible 
from France. 

It is astonishing to note how this able man again and again 
rides his horse up to the edge of the ditch, and yet cannot pluck 
up heart to leap over it. He sees that the alleged allies are fol- 
lowing designs altogether different from those of Prussia, that 
Prussia can in this diplomatic field win nothing of importance 
for herself ; he perceives the valuelessness of the Austrian pro- 
mises ; he sees that a struggle between Prussia and Russia would 
bring advantage to France alone. We imagine, as we read, that 
the only possible conclusion is on the brink of utterance by the 
far-sighted thinker. Then an ejctraordinarily artificial thought- 
process leads him to the preposterous \iew that the first and self- 
evident duty of every Prussian statesman, the duty to safeguard 
the power of his own country, is a base pre-occupation for " the 
personal interest of Prussia " ! Even this cool head is intoxicated 
by the hypocritical Enghsh phrase of "the cause of Europe " ! 
It is the same superhuman magnanimity, and same over-intellec- 
tuahsed weakness of will, which in our history, with a sinister 
regularity, invariably follows the great times of bold and incisive 
activity. The learned Hoffmann, too, contents himself with 
fruitless complaints regarding the hostility displayed towards 
Prussia by almost all the other powers.* Just as little as 
Humboldt does he draw the simple conclusion that the oppressive 
mass of opponents must be shattered, and that an agreement 
must be come to with at least one of the foreign powers. 

Only to good-natured weakness could there still be any doubt 
as to what was to be expected from Austria. At this very 
moment, upon the emperor's orders, Mettemich, Sta.dion, and 
Schwarzenberg assembled in council and determined that in any 
case Prussia must advance as far as the hne of the Vistula. At 

I he same time Mettemich informed the czar in confidence that 
Austria was prepared to yield in the Polish question if Russia 
irould no longer support Prussia's Saxon claims. Alexander 
j ^ Hoffmann's Notes upon his statistical survey, October 30, 1814. 


History of Germany 

gave Frederick William his definite personal assurance that this 
offer had been made. Metternich, after his custom, denied every- 
thing. Since, however, this offer harmonises precisely with the 
policy which was subsequently carried out by Austria, we may 
be certain that on this occasion it was not the czar who was lying. 

An unprecedented humiliation was now imminent for the 
Prussian state, but Frederick WilHam came to the rescue. It 
was perhaps the most valuable diplomatic resolve of his life. On 
November 6th he had a prolonged private interview with the 
czar.* The two friends came to an understanding, and the king 
at length ventured to recommend to his diplomats the poUcy 
which he had himself for months regarded as the only safe one. 
He ordered the chancellor to refrain in future from any hostile 
steps against Russia. Frederick WiUiam had never wished to 
reacquire the millions of disloyal Poles, and could therefore 
learn only with hostility how obstinately England and Austria 
were demanding the Vistular frontier. He knew better than did 
Hardenberg what obstacles there were to the annexation of 
Saxony ; from confidential personal association he had justly 
perceived that the czar had at least more upright good feeling 
towards Prussia than had the good emperor Francis. His straight- 
forward understanding could not conceive why Prussia should 
run the risks of losing her best ally simply in order to resist at all 
hazards the fantastic idea of the Russo-Polish kingdom, which 
would be far more dangerous to Russia herself than to Germany. 
Now, when he saw his own statesmen vacillating in hopeless con- 
fusion, he determined upon personal intervention, and exhibited 
once more the clear and far-seeing soldier's vision which he had 
displayed on the day of Kulm, and so often upon the battle-fields 
of the last winter campaign. It is possible that personal inclina- 
tion may have played some part, but sober political calculation 
was here in harmony with his emotional impulses. 

Hardenberg was profoundly hurt by the decisive appearance 
of his royal master upon the scene, and seriously thought of 
demanding his dismissal ; Metternich and Castlereagh endeavoured 
to strengthen him in this resolve. The king's change of position 
was immediately taken advantage of by the adroit opponents. 
The French circulated an effective fable relating that Alexander 
had talked his friend and himscdf into an emotional state, and 

* It in pojwiblc tliat this interview took place on November 5th. as Hardenberg 
reports in his diary, which, however, is often extremely inaccurate. 



The Congress of Vienna 

had then secured the momentous promise from the unsuspecting 
king. This story found the readier credence among the ill-natiured 
foreign diplomats inasmuch as the king's determination com- 
pletely disordered all their calculations ; since the well-known 
appearance at the grave of Frederick the Great, everyone knew 
how much the czar was able to effect in artificially stage-managed 
emotional scenes. As early as November 7th, Talleyrand trium- 
phantly informed Gentz of the great act of treason of the 
Prussians, and then gave the word, which was soon repeated by 
Metternich and Castlereagh, that Prussia had abandoned " the cause 
of Europe," and that therefore she could not retain Saxony ! But 
this falling away of false friends was not the fault of the king ; 
there can be no doubt that it would have occurred within a few 
weeks whatever Frederick William had done ; and had events 
been different it would have occurred with the co-operation of the 
czar himself. It remains the king's service that in face of the 
inevitable conflict with Austria and the western powers, he secured 
for Prussia the co-operation of Russia, and thus at least rendered 
certain a tolerable compensation. 

Unfortunately the king did not carry his good work to a 
conclusion. It sufficed him to have put an end to the breach 
with Prussia's only ally ; after his retiring manner he left the 
rest to the chancellor. In the conversation above recorded, the 
monarchs had come to an agreement upon two points alone : since 
the czar guaranteed the king in the possession of Saxony, 
Frederick William wished no longer to oppose Alexander's assump- 
tion of the crown of Poland, and he rejected the demand for the 
Vistular frontier made by Austria and England as extreme, and 
as being disadvantageous to Prussia herself. But opinions 
diverged widely regarding the future of the territory between the 
Warthe and the Prosna, and it was certainly Hardenberg's duty 
to get rid of this boundary question immediately by means of 
confidential negotiations, to settle all the contested points that 
till existed between Russia and Prussia, so that these two powers, 
ifeguarded doubtless by binding mutual pledges, might encounter 
le western jpowers and the Hofburg with a common programme, 
fhe Jking's definite command had completely changed the situa- 
)n. The chancellor could no longer play the part of mediator, 
id must now become a partisan. In view of the disloyal 
ibterfuges of Metternich, the senseless phrases of Castlereagh, 
\d the manifest hostility of Talleyrand and all the minor courts, 
was Prussia's duty to think of nothing but her own safety. 

49 E 

History of Germany 

The hypocritical charge of " treason to the cause of Europe " 
had now to be faced. 

In addition, however, to the Prosna hne already offered by 
Russia, it was only Thorn and the neighbouring domains of the 
ancient Ordensland which were indispensable to Prussia. These 
important positions on the Vistula and their German hinterland 
must be restored to the great fatherland ; this was an indis- 
pensable task of national policy. At the first indefinite news 
of the proposed reunion, the local governments of Engelsburg 
and Rheden immediately expressed to the chancellor their cordial 
deUght, relating in moving terms with what indescribable sensa- 
tions during seven long years they had watched close to their 
frontier the happiness of the Prussians, and had themselves been 
forced to bear the yoke of foreign tyranny. ^ The re-acquirement 
of these loyal Grerman territories was, as the result showed, by no 
means impossible, although Alexander regarded the fortress of 
Thorn as one of great value. All that was necessary was to adopt 
a definite resolve, to renounce the purely Polish areas round Kalisz 
and Czenstochowa, and, above all, no longer to give any support to 
Austria's claims upon Cracow. Cracow, if Prussia could acquire 
the town, would be of inestimable value as a frontier fortress, 
and also as a market for the Upper Silesian trade ; under the 
Prussian rule it might be anticipated that this old nursery of 
German citizenship would soon re-acquire a German stamp. But 
as things were, it was only Austria and Russia which were disput- 
ing for possession of the place ; and why should Prussia prefer 
the neighbourliness of Austria to that of Russia, or indeed support 
the claims of the Hofburg to Zamosc and to the fiats of the 
Nida ? As soon as the king had come to a decision, it \vas essential 
to secure an immediate understanding with Russia regarding the 
frontier question. 

Hardenbcrg, however, had already been too greatly influ- 
enced by the English and Austrian views, and could not overcome 
liis mistrust of Russia. All his honouro,ble hopes for Germany's 
future were based upon the " league of the three German great 
powers." For this reason he even now desired to steer a middle 
course between the two parties, and the day after the above con- 
versation (November 7th) he wrote confidentially to Castlereagh. 
He guarded himself, indeed, against saying anything about the 
king's conmiand, and merely narrated how in the course of the con- 
versation he had gained the conviction that Alexander's Polish 
1 Petition to Hardenbcrg, November 5, 1S14. 

The Congress of Vienna 

crown must be recognised. For Prussia he once again demanded 
the Warthe Une and Thorn ; for Austria, the territory as far 
as the Nida, Cracow, and Zamosc, although Mettemich himself 
regarded the last-named place as of httle value. It was hardly 
possible to act more maladroitly. The chancellor was trying to 
sit between two stools. By recognising the kingdom of Poland 
he gave the Hofburg the desired excuse for complaining of Prussia's 
treachery ; and at the same time he ran counter to the czar's 
wishes by demanding a frontier which Russia would not accept. 

Nor did Humboldt obey the king's command without 
remonstrance. In a third memorial, dated November gth, he 
drew attention to the danger that by our alliance with Russia 
Austria would be rendered hostile to Prussia in all German ques- 
tions :^ " Since these matters remain the nearest and most impor- 
tant for Prussia, Russia cannot give us any compensation. 
Repose, balance, and security are no longer conceivable should 
Prussia, without the most just and important motives, detach 
herself from her natural pohtical system, an aUiance between 
Austria, Germany, England, and Holland." Again and again the 
fine dream of German duahsm diffused its atmosphere through 
the minds of the Prussian statesmen. Moreover, a very remark- 
able reason was discovered by Humboldt's over-acute spirit in favour 
of Hardenberg's poUcy ; namely, the circumstance that the two 
worst enemies of Prussia and of the peace of Europe, France and 
Bavaria, were also in conflict with Russia ; from this it was deduced, 
not as ordinary persons would imagine, that Prussia, should she 
unite with these enemies, would most probably be shamefully 
betrayed, but conversely that " France and Bavaria would at once 
lose all interest in the matter as soon as Prussia should adopt the 
same side as their own in respect of Pohsh affairs ! " 

From such artificial premises were drawn the conclusion 
^hat Prussia ought to side openly with England and Austria ; but 
le must demand that the two powers should in a definite under- 
Jtanding immediately recognise Prussia's just demands, and 
xould in especial guarantee the annexation of Saxony. If it should 
lappen that, contrary to expectation, the powers should refuse 
\o agree to these conditions, " they would then show that they 
iad not the interest of Europe truly at heart, and that they were 
xwilling to concede to Prussia the energies which the latter 
jquires to preserve her independence ; consequently Prussia 
irould then be justified in detaching herself from them in the face 

^ Humboldt's Memorial upon the Polish question, November g, 1814. 


History of Germany 

of Europe, and in carving out a way of her own in unison with 

In truth, a blind devotion to Russia is the very last reproach 
that can be made to the diplomats of the Prussian chancellery; 
until the twelfth hour they continued to build upon Austria's 
friendship. Within a few days it became apparent that neither 
Austria nor England would give any definite pledges for the re- 
( stablishment of Prussia. For some weeks thereafter Hardenberg 
continued to exhaust himself in fruitless attempts at media- 
tion ; Pi"ussia secured, first of all, on account of her " desertion," 
nothing more than the hatred which usually accrues in consequence 
ot any change of diplomatic front. But when subsequently the 
dispute became embittered, it resulted from the nature of things, 
almost in opposition to the will of the Prussian statesmen, that 
that grouping of parties which the clear insight of the king had 
from the first recognised as inevitable, came into existence. On 
one side were Prussia and Russia ; upon the other Austria, Eng- 
land, all the petty enviers of the growing German state, and as 
leader of the great conspiracy, France. The Piussian state, 
bleeding from a thousand wounds, had its king alone to thank 
for its abiUty to emerge from such a struggle without complete 

On November 8th Prince Repnin handed over the Saxon 
administration to the Prussian plenipotentiaries, General von 
Gaudy and Minister von Reck. Tlic Leipzig burgomaster Sieg- 
mann and the commercial delegates immediately expressed in 
the name of the town and of the mercantile class their com- 
plete confidence, thanking the diancellor for his admirable choice 
of the higher officials.* lliere was no lack of unedifying disputes, 
for the northern state with its strict supervision made a sudden 
entry amid the cobwebs and the dusty traditional institutions of 
this decayed old feudal administration. Councillor Friese was 
appointed at the head of financial affairs ; he was one of the 
finest intelligences of the Prussian ofiicialdom, the same man 
who in Konigsberg had played so effective a part in connection 
with Stein's reforms. He could not find ternib sufiicjently strong 
for the description of the sins of th national economy, which 
indeed was not more seriously indebted than were the exhausted 
finances of Russia, but which had gone to wreck through a lazy, 

* Prtition £rom the commercial delegates of Leipzig to the Chancellor, 
Novcmbor 13, Siegmann to HardcDbcr/,', November 16. 1814. 


The Congress of Vienna 

cumbrous, and venial administration ; and Friese came into 
serious conflict with the members of the Saxon financial college.* 
The Saxon nobles, who had hitherto presided over the depart- 
ment of the general government, had now associated with them 
bourgeois officials, such as the privy councillor Kriiger, a true son of 
the efficient, relentlessly severe Old Prussian official school, and 
the Saxon councillor Ferber, an old opponent of the feudal 
dominion and long abused by the nobles as a demagogue. Con- 
sequently great wrath was displayed. The offended nobles 
regarded the sacred rights of " the Saxon nation " as endangered, 
for the confusion of personal interests with general interests 
remains the original sin of the particularist mind. They even 
brought their troubles before the congress. Stein, whose atti- 
tude in quarrels between nobles and " officials " was seldom im- 
partial, found fault with the roughness of the Prussians. The 
chancellor, however, rejected the complaints with some severity 
saying : " You cannot make these purely personal differences an 
affair of the Saxon people, for you can by no means be regarded 
as representatives of that people." 

In Leipzig, reasonable business men soon conceived a confidence 
in the new strict and just regime ; the value of the treasury bills 
and of the Saxon bank-notes immediately rose. Gruner, the 
commercial counsel, thanked the chancellor warmly for oppos- 
ing the regime of the nobles, for in this, said Gruner, is to be found 
the true reason "of the cumbrousness characteristic of our 
administration." The head of the great banking house of 
Reichenbach expressed himself in still more decisive terms." 
Certainly some of the ancient abuses were dear even to the valiant 
citizens of Leipzig. The town had hitherto formed almost a 
state within the state ; it maintained its own town soldiers ; no 
sovereign troops might appear within its walls ; the town council 
enjoyed the convenient right of having to account to no one con- 
cerning the administration of communal property. Requests 

/ere immediately made for the preservation of these privileges. 
Jie chancellor, however, dear to him as the town was, could agree 

Merely to the preservation of the old fair-privileges and of a free 

imunal constitution ; he also promised that the necessary 

taxes should be imposed only " with the assent of an 

1 Upon tliis matter we have an express report from Finance Minister von 
low to the chancellor, dated Berlin, December 8, 1814. 

* Gruner to Stagemann, November 27, Reichenbach to Hardenberg, 
/ember 28, 1814. 


History of Germany 

assembly of the estates to be elected from the nation," and 
undertook not to impose a garrison upon the town in time of 
peace. ^ He went no further. It was impossible that the common 
law of the monarchical administration should allow oligarchical 
privileges to persist undisturbed. 

There is no doubt that a few mistakes were made in 
Saxony ; in none of our new provinces could the emergence 
from the narrows of particularism be effected without a certain 
harshness of touch. The mass of the people, however, not- 
withstanding their unquestionably particularist sentiments, had 
no thought of resistance. Von Zeschau, commissary of the 
government in Wittenberg and subsequently Saxon minister of 
finance, who possessed a profound knowledge of the situation, 
declared frankly that it could not be expected " that the Saxon 
people should completely forget a prince under whose rule they 
had, until the year 1806, lived very happily " ; yet the modera- 
tion of the government was finding recognition ; certainly no 
disturbances were to be feared, and the people would soon 
accustom themselves to the new order.* Everyone knows how 
precisely this prophecy was subsequently fulfilled in the northern 
half of Saxony. But just because it was so, because it was 
unquestionable that the country would readily become fused with 
the Prussian state, the nobles' club in Dresden, the old meeting- 
place of the high nobility and of the bureaucracy, passionately 
resisted the threatened loss of their old supremacy. The forest- 
rangers — almost the only men in the country to whom the old 
king had displayed his human side, free from the oppression 
of etiquette — eagerly forwarded the letters of the prisoner and 
of his agent Marcolini. The uncertainty of the future gave 
continually fresh nourishment to the intrigues of the junkers. 
People anxiously looked for every item of news from Vienna, 
for every hint from Freidrichsfcldc. In November, when the 
Duke of Bruaswick passed through Dresden, he regarded it as 
his duty as a Guelph to speak to everyone about the approaching 
return of the tribal sovereign. Pi ivy Councillor Kriigcr imme- 
diately noticed how the excitement in the palace increased, and 
he wrote to the chancellor : " My own office is quaking at the 
prospect ! " • 

* Hardenbcrg to Miltitz, December 12, 1814 ; Hardenberg to Billow, January 

> Despatch of Zeschau to von BUlow, provisional cliicf of tlie Saxon police, 
November x8, 1814. 

• Krilger's Report to Hardenberg, November 29, 1814. 



The Congress of Vienna 



Meanwhile, throughout the camp of the Rhenish Confede- 
rates, and loudest of all in Bavaria, there raged a furious 
paper war, so hopelessly mean in character that the Saxon Carl 
von Nostitz aptly described it as " pamphleteering incendiarism." 
These pamphlets, mostly issued by the cabinets themselves or at 
their instigation, served only to excite the passions of the day 
and to aggravate the conflict. Here was assembled the entire 
armoury of poisoned weapons which from that date onwards for 
a whole generation were directed against Prussia ; there was 
already manifest the design, which subsequently in the days 
of the persecution of the demagogues was crowned with so much 
success, of inspiring the crown of Prussia with suspicion regarding 
the War of Liberation and its heroes The Guelph Sartorius here 
rivalled Adam Miiller, the friend of Gentz, the editor of the ultra- 
montane Tiroler Boten. The learned historian of Gottingen, when, 
in the ante-rooms of the diplomats at Vienna he was engaged in 
confidential intercourse with Gentz, composed under the name 
of " A Prussian Patriot " the pamphlet Upon the Union of Saxony 
with Prussia. With all the sorrow and shame of a loyal Prus- 
sian, he recorded the rumour that blind couasellors wished to 
besmirch the hands of the king with stolen goods. Corruption 
was on the watch ; the state stood at the parting of the ways. 
Was the suum cuique rafit once again, as formerly in Silesia, West 
Prussia, and Hanover, to be the motto of our eagle ? At this 
juncture, as in every great crisis of our recent history, the Augs- 
burger Allgemeine Zeitung was among the enemies of Prussia. 

Still more vigorous was the language of Aretin and Hermann, 
the two tried catchpoles of Bonapartism, in the Miinchener Ale- 
mannia. Aretin's writing Saxony and Prussia exposes the idea 
which has since then been a favourite notion of our federalists: 
The inflated Prussian frog must remain a power of the second rank ; 
should it attain to the first rank, the quiet and the balance of 
Europe will be destroyed. This is followed by the usual assurance 
that the Prussian land-hunger aspires also towards Hamburg, 
Bohemia, and Moravia. Simultaneously from the circles of Mont- 
gelas and of the Bavarian government was issued a pamphlet 
Prussia and Germany which after a flood of invective made a 
solemn appeal to " the Saxons, Rhinelanders, and Mainzers " to 
defend their freedom against the talons of the Prussian eagle. The 
cUmax of this literature was found in the Sdchsische Aktenstiicke aus 
der Dresdener umgeschrieben Zeitung, secretly printed in Bavaria — 
jthis was a falsification of so preposterous a character that we 


History of Germany 

find it difficult to understand to-day how it could ever have found 
any credulous readers. Here Duke Ernest of Coburg intercedes 
on behalf of his imprisoned relative in a touching epistle which 
had plainly been composed by La Besnardiere upon Talleyrand's 
orders. The Prussian generals (York, Biilow, Kleist, Gneisenau, 
and Massenbach) wiite a threatening address to the chancellor, 
demanding, with rattling of sabres, the immediate annexation of 
Saxony ; and saying " where would the Prussian monarchy be if 
we had blindly obeyed the pusillanimous cabinet ? " In a memo- 
rial Hardenberg warns the king of the unbridled spirit that prevails 
in the army, and of the dangerous intrigues of those secret societies 
which had been so useful in the struggle against Napoleon. Wilhelm 
Humboldt writes triumphantly to Niebuhr pointing out that the 
Prussians have well understood how to follow the example 
of the robber nation of the Romans, so magnificently depicted 
by the great historian himself : " Nothing now stands in our 
way but Bavaria with its iron ministry ! " In face of such feats 
of Bavarian Bonapartism, the trifling manifestations in Saxony 
itself seemed tame and harmless. From Saxony came a pitiful 
" appeal to all the German nations," an anonymous pamphlet 
issued at the publishing house of " St. Land-Hunger," a few letters 
by officials and barristers, with repeated assurances that the 
writers took up their pons only out of " inward conviction " — 
that is all. Even the few pamphlets favourable to annexation 
that appeared in Saxony, displayed the same character of political 
decadence. Nowhere is there a great national outlook ; nothing 
but petty bourgeois complaints of the misdeeds of the noble nepo- 
tists and of the bigotry of the Catholic court — how different was 
it in Prussia, where princesses and burghers' wives alike wore the 
order of Louise, and where all the religious parties enjoyed the 
royal justice 1 

Even foreign newspapers began to intervene in the party 
quarrel, and all of them against Prussia. Since the tory cabinet 
at first appeared favourable to the Prussian claims, the whigs, 
in accordance with the old rule of English paily tactics, eagerly 
took the side of the imprisoned king, alike in parliament and the 
prcs.s, and they were support(;d by pubhc opinion. During the 
last two generations the English nation has been just as hostile 
as the French to the strengthening of the German North, although 
the English have not made so much noise about the matter. At 
that time it was the English view that her dearest commercial 
interests were threatened by Prussia ; J^ipzig, a leading centre 


The Congress of Vienna 

of British trade, must not be allowed to enter into a customs- 
union with a great state. In holy anger, the whig orators 
denounced the cunning attacks of the despots against " the Saxon 
nation," and with the same sublime enthusiasm the union of Genoa 
with Piedmont was stigmatised as the death-blow to Italian free- 
dom. The French press adhered Hke one man to Napoleon's 
faithful ally. On November 7th, before Paris had received news 
of Frederick William's decisive step, the semi-official Quotidienne 
openly announced the programme of the Bourbon Confederation 
of the Rhine. The government of the most Christian king was 
perhaps the only one in Europe which could count upon the 
support of a unanimous popular vote. " The justified greatness 
of France, the legitimate and inalienable strength of the country, 
is found in its adoption of the fine role of defender of the oppressed 
and protector of the weak, or armed guarantor of the sacredness 
of treaties " ; for this reason there must be demanded the com- 
plete independence of Poland, which as a state already in existence 
required merely to be established on a firmer foundation, there 
must be unrestricted sovereignty for the German states, respect 
for the national individuahty of the Saxons, of the Bavarians, 
and of the other German peoples ; " then a free and strong 
Confederation will for ever separate the French arms from the 
arms of Austria and Piussia." 

The Rheinische Merkur valiantly resisted the full- voiced 
chorus of the Rhenish Confederates, and was for this reason 
spoken of by the journalists of Montgelas as the Thersites of the 
German newspapers. Gorres in his figurative language issued 
warnings against the basilisk eggs of the Gallic cock. But not 
( ven in these circles was there any assured understanding of the 
great problem of power. The Merkur opened its columns not 
to friends alone, but also to the moderate opponents of the Prus- 
sian claims. Among these must be reckoned Jacob Grimm, who, 
delighted at the return of his Hessian electoral prince, desired the 
like joy for the Saxons. An impassioned article begged the sons 
Germania to spare Saxony, " the more spiritual brother, who has 
udied alone " — as if this brother could not have continued his 
iidies undisturbed under Prussian tutelage 1 The literary defence 
Prussian policy was, on the whole, conducted only by men who 
cod near to the government. At the request of the chancellor, 
"arnhagen published a pamphlet, as superficial as everything 
e which this pohtical dilettantist wrote about affairs of state, 
11 of empty phrases concerning " the spirit of liberalism which 


History of Germany 

animated Prussia's endeavours." Arndt, Eichhorn, and J. G. 
Hoffmann wrote more seriously and more worthily. The statis- 
tician's Prussia and Saxony, written with a quiet modesty, 
gives an eloquent answer to the fashionable complaints concern- 
ing Prussian arrogance. Never, says Hoffmann frankly, had 
Prussia been so unanimously abused by the German world as in 
the days of the laws of Stein and Hardenberg ; yet good must 
preponderate in the Prussian state, for the nation had made such 
memorable sacrifices for the re-establishment of this abused com- 
munity. This cool-headed and documented demonstration of 
the faults of the imprisoned king, aroused such bitterness in 
Friedrichsfelde, that the Saxon minister, Count Einsiedel, was 
audacious enough to demand that the Prussian government should 
suppress Hoffmann's work ; naturally the note was returned to 

By far the most important work produced during this paper 
war was Barthold Niebuhr's pamphlet Prussia's Right against 
the Saxon Court. In general, it may be said to be the most notable 
production of the German publicists at this epoch, combining as 
it does, Arndt 's noble passion and rhetorical fire with the wealth 
of ideas and the wide political knowledge of Friedrich Gentz. 
How freely and boldly does the great historian expound the two 
central ideas of our national policy, never before expressed with 
the same clarity, but which since then have become part of the 
very tissue of all noble-minded Germans. He shows that a great 
nation, conscious of its own unity, must punish as felony a deser- 
tion of the national cause, even when the traitor has not infringed 
any written law. " The community of nationality is higher than 
the relationships of state which unite or separate the different 
peoples belonging to a single stock." Then, with the certainty 
of the seer, he prophesies that the days of German particularism 
are numbered : weak communities, those which are unable to 
maintain themselves by their own energies, " cease to be states." 
Such arc the views forced upon this conservative thinker, who, 
within a year of the battle of Leipzig, sees the German petty 
princes once more following the banner of France. In the con- 
fidential exchange of letters among the Prussian diplomats, their 
disquiet concerning the revival of particularism fmds even sharper 
expres.sion. Alopcus wrote to Humboldt : " The very men who 
after the battle of Leipzig were crying out ' serves him right,' 
are now expressing their compassion for the pious king ; and the 
Bourbons, who in June had their work cut out to keep their own 


The Congress of Vienna 

heads above water, have now energy to spare for the preservation 
of others. One is almost carried away by one's anger to see that 
the very German emperor who was so scandalously abandoned 
by his vassals, now receives in the imperial town, with all the 
honours due to sovereigns, this crowd of vassals besmirched with 
the crime of treason-felony. We ask ourselves what can be the 
hidden aim of a condescension which there is no need to display ? " 

Naturally neither the wrathful words of Niebuhr, nor the 
reasoned considerations of Hoffmann exercised any influence 
upon the course of the congress. It had been the hope of Austria, 
in conjunction with England and Prussia, to drive the czar into 
a corner, and then to come to an understanding with Russia over 
Prussia's head. This plan had now been frustrated by the king's 
intervention, and Metternich immediately altered his tactics. 
To him, as to the French, the Saxon question was far more impor- 
tant than the future of Poland. As early as November nth, in 
conversation with Castlereagh and Hardenberg, he took back the 
word he had given to the chancellor, and declared that the general 
resistance to the annexation of Saxony was invincible, and that 
at least Dresden and the southern portion of the country must 
be restored to the imprisoned prince. In this way the idea of 
the partition of Saxony, which in the summer had already been 
mooted by Stadion to the negotiators of Frederick Augustus, 
was at length openly declared to be the aim of Austrian policy. 
The Hofburg was quite unconcerned at the contemplation of this 
arbitrary disruption of the old Saxon community, at the dis- 
turbance of its customary channels of intercourse by the institu- 
tion of new customs-barriers. The intention of Austria was simply 
to re-establish the faithful House of the Albertines in a position 
where it would be a nuisance to Prussia, and at the same time 
to keep a sore open in the body of the Prussian friend. Since 
the Lorrainers themselves had never attempted to awaken an 
Austrian national sentiment among the immediate subjects of 
their house, they naturally had no understanding whatever of the 
nation-building energy of the Prussian monarchy ; it was their 
hope that partitioned Saxony would become for Prussia a second 
Poland. Emperor Francis said confidentially to the duke of 
Weimar : " Now, now, what are you worrying about ? If the 

I country is partitioned, it will soon come together again." 
Hardenberg decisively rejected Mettemich's proposal, and 
himself suggested that the Albertines should be compensated, 


History of Germany 

not by the Legations, but by a portion of Catholic Westphaha. 
In Vienna he had at length noticed that Austria desired to 
retain for herself the northern portion of the Pontifical State, 
and hoped that this offer would render the Hofburg more compliant. 
No one in all Germany had at that time drawn the attention of 
the Prussian statesmen to what was signified by handing over 
the two fortresses of Romanism in the German north, Miinster 
and Paderbom, as an independent state, into the hands of a 
bigoted Catholic princely house. By all the free spirits of that 
generation, the Holy See was lightly esteemed and was regarded 
as utterly powerless, whilst by the romanticists it was admired 
as an enemy of the revolution. On the other hand, the patriots 
recognised very justly that, in accordance with Hardenberg's latest 
proposal, which was unquestionably rendered inevitable by the 
course of the diplomatic discussions, the Saxon negotiations lost 
much of their national significance. If the most faithful of Napo- 
leon's vassals was to be re-established upon German soil, the ques- 
tion was whether he should receive the passes of the Erzgebirge, 
or a portion of Lower Saxony. No doubt this question was still 
one of considerable importance in relation to Prussia's military 
power, but it could no longer count upon awakening the wa.rm 
interest of the general public. Even Arndt admitted that, hence- 
forward, the Saxon problem was to him a matter of indifference. 
Mettemich declared that this plan also was extremely unsatis- 
factory, and repeated with increasing definiteness that nothing 
but the restoration to the prisoner of a portion of his territory 
could appease the profound discontent of the Grerman princes. 

England, also, withdrew from her pledged word. Castle- 
reagh now reaped the fruits of his arrogant presumption. He 
had offered the greatest affronts to the czar ; and since Prussia 
refused to take part any longer in the diplomatic campaign against 
Russia, the logic of facts threw the linglish statesmen upon the side 
of that power which was most decisively attacking Prussia and 
Russia. As early as November I5lh, the fairly honourable Charles 
Stewart came to St(in and complained, full of distress and shame, 
that the English were forced to throw themselves into the arms 
of France ! The dread of the British cabinet before the angry 
speeches of the parliamentary opposition, and the sympathy 
of the prince regent for the imprisoned king, accelerated the change 
of front. Cistlcreagh received orders from home that he should 
completely abandon the Pnissian cause, and such was his thick- 
licadcdncss that he never clearly perceived the treacherous 


The Congress of Vienna 

character of this abandonment. Even in parUament, the noble 
lord, when excusing his change of sentiment, could only say that 
public opinion in Germany was definitely unfavourable to the 
annexation of Saxony — ^surely a remarkable opinion to find expres- 
sion in the mouth of this high tory, who in all other respects 
displayed the utmost contempt for the wishes of the people. 

Nothing but Castlereagh's stupidity and Mettemich's cun- 
ning can explain how it was that England and Austria should now 
suddenly declare all that to be black wliich they had previously 
proclaimed to be white. The PoUsh crown of Alexand'-r, which 
they had so long contested, now appeared to them to be a " snare " 
which the czar had set for his own hurt ; the annexation of 
Saxony, which both of them had accepted in dubious words, was 
now regarded by them as a grave infringement of international 
law. It had been recognised that Russia could not be diverted 
from her PoUsh plans \vithout a war ; "the PoUsh affair," wrote 
Gagcrn on December ist, " is nearly finished from lack of 
lighters." All the more securely did Metternich reckon upon the 
frustration of the Russian claims, which were far less strongly 
supported. He was now fully in unison with Talle>Tand, and 
in conjunction with the Frenchman he examined and approved 
the formulation of new securities for justice on behalf of the 
imprisoned king. 

Dehghted at such success, Talleyrand's demands became 
daily more exacting. He made Dalberg and La Besnardiere 
compose an apology for the Albertine. He assured the faithful 
Gagern that France would never again tolerate the Prussians 
on the left bank of the Rhine, nor yet in Saxony. A " Memorial 
concerning Saxony from the French Point of View " enumerated 
Prussia's sins against the German fatherland : the peace of Basle, 
the principal resolution of the Diet of Deputation, the neutrality 
of 1805, all sins from the French point of view ! The Moniteur 
solemnly announced : " The only prince who might perhaps have 
the right of condemning Frederick Augustus, the king of France, 
i discharges the accused." The article went on to speak enthusias- 
tically of eternal dismemberment as the glorious characteristic 
of the German nation : "In the German character we find a strong 
adhesion to sacred customs ; the most sacred of these is obedience 
(to particular princes." 

These princes particuliers were in full accord with the 
Moniteur' s philosophy of history. Upon Talleyrand's demand 
[they were ready to sign a common protest against the annexation 


History of Germany 

of Saxony, and nothing prevented the undertaking but a warn- 
ing from the czar. For every one of the petty princes, 
Talleyrand had alluring promises ready, and each one of them 
hoped to gain at least a thousand souls at the great territorial 
market of Vienna. The sentiment of German particularism found 
faithful expression in the numerous memorials of the Land- 
grave of Hesse-Homburg, which expounded the luminous thesis 
that " since all the neighbouring powers had been enlarged," so 
also must Homburg be enlarged in order not to dechne from her 
historical position of power, and it was absolutely necessary that 
she should annex the villages of Ober-Ursel and Ober-Rossbach ! 
Von TUrkheim, the envoy of Darmstadt, even ventured, amid 
this high legitimist society, to base the claims of his serene master 
for compensation upon a formal appeal to the inahenable droits 
de I'homme.^ If Talleyrand's plans should prove successful, if 
Prussia should receive comp^sation neither upon the Rhine nor 
in Saxony, there would remain more land available to satisfy the 
desires of the petty princes ; for this reason, all, without excep- 
tion, were upon the side of France, and the conquered enemy once 
more appeared to them as the powerful protector of Germany. 

The wretched dispute about Saxony brought all the other 
labours of the congress to a stand-still. The committee upon 
the German constitution had already broken up some time before, 
with nothing accomphshed. In the interim, pitiful personal dis- 
putes were rife. Metternich, endeavouring to arouse suspicion 
of the Prussian chancellor in the mind of Alexander, laid before 
the czar the anti-Russian note which Hardenberg had written at 
the opening of the congress — and in general made all the mischief 
he could. Notwithstanding these proofs of Austrian friendship, 
the chancellor allowed himself to be persuaded by Metternich to 
intermediate once more between Russia on the one hand and 
England and Austria on the other. On November 23rd, he made 
the old demands : the line of the Warthe for Prussia, Cracow and 
Zamosc for Austria — although by the king's command he was 
pledged not to separate himself from Russia. Fortunately Stein 
came to his assistance. This great man had perceived in the 
meanwhile that he had taken too one-sided a course in opposing 
the Polish plans of the czar. In accordance with his frank and 
admirable manner, he immediately determined to atone for the 
previous error, and at once devoted all liis energies to saving Saxony 

Memorial of tliu hereditary prince of Homburg to Uumboldt ; of Turkhciiu 
to Hardenberg (January and February, 1814). 


The Congress of Vienna 

for Prussia. It was through his good offices that Alexander's 
answer was comparatively favourable. On November 27th, the 
czar declared that he would never abandon his Prussian ally, who 
had supported him " so energetically, nobly, and enduringly." 
He demanded the whole of Saxony for Prussia, Mainz for the 
Germanic Federation ; of his Polish claims he abandoned Thorn 
and Cracow, which were both to be recognised as neutral free 

This declaration solved the Mainz problem. Metternich 
renounced the design of handing over the fortress to Bavaria, 
for in opposition to this plan Russia and Prussia were in unison 
with the particularist envy of the petty princes. Hardenberg 
would not entrust the key of Rhineland to faithless hands ; 
the petty princes, on their side, were afraid, as the Wiirtemberg 
plenipotentiaries expressed it, that a strong state in possession* 
of Mainz " would subordinate the destiny of all the other German 
states to its own." Thus an expedient was adopted which, however 
unnatural and absurd it might be, was nevertheless in a sense a 
necessary outcome of the chaotic conditions of the Germanic 
Federation. The golden Mainz, once the seat of the most dis- 
tinguished of German princes, was subjected to the supremacy of 
the grand-duke of Darmstadt, because this potentate could never 
be a danger to his neighbours ; the fortress was occupied by the 
Germanic Federation with an Austro-Prussian garrison. Here, 
at any rate, Prussia was to keep a foot in the stirrup. No one 
foresaw the unending dispute which was to result from the joint 
occupation with Austria ; people still cherished the dream of a 
peaceful duaUsm. Just as artificial was the Russian proposal to 
make Thorn and JCracow free towns ; it was inevitable that a 
republic of Cracow would be the focus of an extremely dangerous 
Pohsh propaganda, dangerous especially to Austria. For the 
moment, however, the only thought of the Hofburg was to secure 
Jthat the dominant position on the Upper Vistula should not serve 
a frontier fortress for the Russians. Metternich raised httle 

Objection to the plan. 

The Polish negotiations now offered little further difficulty, 
specially since Alexander dropped the idea of uniting Lithuania 
id Poland, and demanded merely the Warsaw territory for the 

^ew Pohsh kingdom. To the complaints of Czartoryski he 
sphed indeed, with the secret consolation that this mutilated 
ingdom was merely une pierre d'attente. Nevertheless, the Saxon 

^ Wiutzingerode and Linden to Hardenberg, December 8, 1814. 


History of Germany 

question remained henceforward the only serious point in dispute 
among the powers. More and more violent became the general 
opposition to the Prussian plans. In his perplexity, the chan- 
cellor determined upon one of the greatest diplomatic mistakes 
of his life. Upon December 3rd he wrote to Metternich an 
incredible letter, which was to touch the good heart of his 
Austrian friend through its moving expressions. " Dear Prince, 
save Prussia from her present difficulties," and he added some 
turgid verses from the Rheinische Merkur, inviting the double 
eagle to be good enough to build its eyrie side by side with the 
black eagle of Prussia upon the same giant oak ! 

In a confidential note of December loth, Metternich replied 
with scarcely concealed disdain. He now ofiicially withdrew his 
formal consent, and offered his Prussian friend no more than a 
fifth of Saxon territory, a portion of Lusatia with somewhat 
over 400,000 inhabitants : if the Albertine were not to receive 
his crown back, the Germanic Federation could not come into 
existence, and France would regain the protectorate of the petty 
states. Whilst he himself thus warned Prussia of the French 
intrigues, on December i6th, upon the command of Emperor 
Francis, he showed this confidential note to Talleyrand, in order 
that King Louis might learn " how complete was the harmony 
of views " between Austria and France in the Saxon question ! 
The faithlessness of the Hofburg was manifested so unashamedly 
as to lead the honourable Gorres to write angrily that Prussia 
need merely print the two Austrian notes of October 22nd and 
December loth side by side for all right-minded people to see that 
she was in the right. Hardcnberg had fallen as if from the clouds. 
" Non fidem servavit," he wrote despairingly, in his diary when 
recording the receipt of this " totally unexpected answer." ^ He 
saw very well that the opinion of right-minded people amounted 
to nothing in this struggle for power. To the Austrians, in a 
joint note with Alexander dated December i6th, he expressed 
his profound astonishment at the change of sentiment of the Hof- 
burg, and since his WestphaUan plan of compensation did not 
find acceptance, he now proposed that a portion of territory on 
the left bank of the Rhine, with Treves and Bonn, should be pro- 
vided for Frederick Augustus. To-day, no one can fail to recog- 
nise the preposterous nature of this proposal, which was the out- 
come merely of the most painful embarrassment : to establish the 
Albertine close to the French frontier would simply open for the 
^ Hardcnbcrg's Diary, December 10 and Z2, i8i4. 

The Congress of Vienna 

French a convenient gate of attack upon Germany. But when 
Metternich immediately detected the weak side of the Prussian 
proposal and unctuously rejoined that the left bank of the Rhine 
must never again be thus exposed to the French, he was only 
playing with words, being himself already in cordial understand- 
ing with this dreaded land of France. In order to divide his 
opponents, Hardenberg simultaneously demanded that Bavaria 
should restore the Franconian margravates. This was an unfor- 
tunate move, although the blustering ill-nature of the Bavarian 
statesmen merited chastisement. It is true that the chancellor 
had not yet ceded Ansbach-Bayreuth in a formal treaty, but he 
had on several occasions verbally declared that he was prepared 
to accept the duchy of Berg as compensation. By now reopening 
the old dispute, without the remotest prospect of success, he gave 
a welcome excuse to Metternich, Wrede, and Talleyrand to 
complain of " Prussian trickery." He closed his note with the 
assurance that Prussia still counted above all upon the support 
of Russia and Austria. 

In reality both parties were already weighing the possibiUty 
of a war. Among the Prussian people embitterment was mani- 
festly increasing. An address from Berlin placed the forces of 
the country at the king's disposal for the justified struggle. 
Stagemann sang wrathfuUy : 

" The flag of Brandenbei^, my song, 

Streams on the breeze once more. 
And once again our wrath is stirred, 

Seize steel like those of yore ! . . . 
The dogs of France, from our last chase, 

Their wounds still gape amain — 
On, Lightning-blast, on. Lance and Mace, 

Fierce hounds with leash astrain ! " 

It was learned from Goltz* that the French army was being 
quietly strengthened, upon Talle5n:and's advice. It was reported 
that there was a plan that the Saxon troops which were to the 
north of the Moselle, under Prussian command, should at the chosen 
moment be united with the Bavarian and Austrian forces upon 
the right bank of the Moselle. Among the Austrian generals, 
>chwarzenberg displayed the most cheerful confidence of victory, 
)r in the last war he had learned enough to despise the mean 
itelligence of Blucher and Gneisenau. On December i6th, 

» Goltz's Reports from Paris, November 24 and. December 19, 18 14. 

65 F 

History of Germany 

Mettemich disclosed to Count Mtinster his intention to form a 
Germanic Federation without Prussia, unless Prussia should 
abandon her Saxon claims ; of course Austria was to demand 
merely the modest position of first among equals. The Guelph 
statesman immediately recognised that this would mean war 
and the dissolution of the congress ; he was ready for anything, 
although the Austrian greed of power and the unfavourable 
geographical situation of Hanover caused him some anxiety, and 
he demanded from England the prolongation of the subsidies-treaty 
in order that the Guelph army might be equipped. 

The Prussian Minister of War at once took measures for 
resistance. On December 26th Grolman sent the chancellor the 
plan of campaign he had drawn up in conjunction with Boyen, 
Gneisenau, and Scholer.^ In accordance with the good old 
Frederician manner, two great armies were to open the campaign 
simultaneously by a bold offensive in Saxony and on the Rhine, 
whilst an observation corps protected Silesia. The situation was 
so threatening that all ordinary considerations of mihtary prece- 
dence were disregarded, and Blucher and Gneisenau were recom- 
mended as commanders of the respective armies ; after these two 
Biilow was the only general to be considered, since York, Kleist, 
and Tauentzien were no more than excellent leaders of army 
corps. Colonel Krauseneck, who commanded the Prussian garrison 
in Mainz under the Austrian governor Frimont, received 
orders that, at the first sign, he should seize the fortifications on 
the right bank ; they would be sufficient to hold the place in 
check, but his modest force would not suffice for the occupation 
of the whole fortress. Boyen also had the other fortresses 
secretly equipped. The Saxon troops on the Rhine were quietly 
moved northward, into the vicinity of Prussian regiments. Boyen 
assumed that the smaller North German contingents, with the 
exception of the Hanoverians, must all follow the Prussian flag. 
The monarchy was determined to make its appearance imme- 
diately as master of North Germany ; who, in such a struggle 
for existence, could pay any attention to the outcries and the 
claims for sovereignty of the petty princes ? 

Amid this general confusion, Talleyrand saw his harvest ripen- 
ing. After Mettemich had officially communicated to him the 
last Austrian note concerning Saxony, the Frenchman considered 
himself justified in intervening officially in the Saxon ncgotia- 

^ Grolman to Hardcnbcrg, December 29, X814, with a memorial upon the 
plan of operations. 


The Congress of Vienna 

tions, and answered his Austrian friend on December 19th. Since, 
he said, the Polish problem had become a mere question of 
frontier, the Saxon affair was now the matter of greatest import- 
ance to Europe from the point of view of principle. Here the 
principles of legitimacy and of the balance of power were both 
at stake. To-day the detestable doctrine was diffused that kings 
could be sentenced, that the punishment of confiscation could be 
reintroduced, that the nations could be divided hke the herds of 
a dairy farm, that there was no such thing as public law, " that 
everything was just for the stronger." But Europe execrated 
these doctrines ; " they arouse the like detestation in Vienna, 
St. Petersburg, London, Madrid, and Lisbon " (not, that is to 
say, in Berlin). The annexation of Saxony would also destroy 
the balance of power in Europe, introducing into the Germanic 
Federation " an offensive power of incomparable strength." For 
this reason the legitimate king must be restored ; if certain 
cessions of territory were unavoidable for the compensation 
of Prussia, France would advise the legitimate ruler in this 

By this note, Talleyrand tore up the secret article of the 
treaty of Paris, and threw the fragments at the feet of the four 
powers. Whilst for a long time he had worked counter to the 
treaty in obscurity, he now entered into the territorial negotia- 
tions with an official memorial, into those negotiations from which 
by treaty France had been excluded, and he supported the 
Austrian proposal for the partition of Saxony — although this did 
not prevent him in the same breath from expressing the execra- 
tion of Europe for the policy of partition. A second note from 
the Frenchman to Castlereagh (December 26th) assumed the tone 
of legitimist unction which was irresistible to the high tory. The 
aim of the congress was " to close the revolution " ; formerly 
republic and monarchy were fighting one another, to-day it was 
a struggle between the revolutionary and the legitimist dynasties; 
the revolutionary dynasties had disappeared with one exception, 
that which ruled in Naples, and the legitimist d3niasties had been 

11 re-established with one exception, that of the unfortunate king 
)f Saxony ; " consequently the revolution was not yet con- 
cluded " ; France expected that the congress would fulfil its 
luty. The proceedings of the next few days showed that France's 
)reach of the treaty was extremely welcome alike to the Austrian 

id to the English statesmen. The three powers were at one. 

Ls early as December 14th, Mettemich regarded the coming triple 


History of Germany 

alliance as so sure, that he told the Saxon agent Schulenburg to 
write to his royal master that Saxony was rescued ! 

Since these formless negotiations led to nothing, it was finally 
determined that the Committee of Four should be summoned once 
more, and that the territorial questions should be ceremonially 
laid before the forum of the four allied great powers. On 
December 29th the committee reassembled. As was to be expected, 
the course of the proceedings was as follows. Everyone was 
agreed about Mainz ; everyone was agreed about the principal 
point in the Polish affair ; it was only the Saxon problem regard- 
ing which nothing had been settled. A new note from Harden- 
berg to Mettemich (December 29th) asked of the opponents : 
" Is Prussia to have the necessity forced upon her of striving in the 
future for enlargement ? " This aroused a storm of indignation, 
for the justice of the reproach was perceived. A memorial from 
Stein (December 20th) served only to strengthen the Austrian 
minister in his views. Stein declared that a re-established 
Saxony would be as great a source of dissension in the north 
as was Bavaria in the south ; he did not reahse that the Hofburg 
desired nothing more ardently than this North German Bavaria. 

The secret aims of Austria were displayed already in the 
first sitting of the Committee of Four, when Mettemich demanded 
that Talleyrand should be admitted to the committee ; at the 
same time he declared that the Saxon question could not be 
decided without the approval of Frederick Augustus. This meant 
that the Albertine was to be made master of the situation. Castle- 
reagh would not go so far as this, but he also advocated the 
admission of the French minister. According to the Englishman's 
wonderful logic, the admission of France was necessary "because, 
in accordance with the secret article of the treaty of Paris, the 
treaties of Kalisz and Reichenbach are legally binding upon France 
as well " — and yet this very article expressly excluded France 
from all co-operation in the territorial negotiations. These 
demands were repeatedly and strongly opposed by Russia and 
Prussia ; they did not desire to admit Frederick Augustus in any 
circumstances, and they were willing to admit Talleyrand to the 
committee only after the four powers had come to an agreement. 
Bitter expressions, and even serious threats, were exchanged. 
It was under the influence of this passionate scene that Castlereagh 
first hit upon the unhappy idea for which the way had been paved 
for months by Talleyrand through agitation and incitement. He 


The Congress of Vienna 

secretly proposed a war alliance between England, Austria, France, 
and their smaller well-wishers. It is essentially futile to demand 
the motives that actuated such a mind as his. The noble 
lord was what his countrymen speak of as stubborn ; with 
a blind ardour the English bull charged upon the red cloth of 
the Saxon question which Metternich and Talleyrand, the adroit 
matadors, waved before his eyes. Moreover, Castlereagh had 
just received news that in Ghent England had concluded peace 
with the United States, and that the Enghsh armies were there- 
fore free. There was not indeed a single interest in the world 
which could lead the English state into war with Prussia ; but 
for many weeks the diplomats had been working up their indigna- 
tion against the country which was supp>osed to have betrayed 
the cause of Europe, and once again the fire laid by "the dogs of 
France " was about to burst out into bright flames. Even 
Gagern, seeking excuse for the British frenzy, could find nothing 
more to say than : " The pot boiled over." 

Whilst Metternich was discussing with the western powers 
an attack upon the Prussians, the social intercourse of the diplo- 
matic world was pursued with undisturbed serenity. The good 
emperor Francis played the host with the accustomed loyal good- 
nature to those princely guests whom he hoped to stab in the back. 
As late as January 2nd, Metternich wrote " to his dear prince " 
Hardenberg a friendly note, inviting him on the ground of urgent 
business to postpone that day's sitting until the morrow.' A few 
hours later, he came personally to visit the chancellor for a con- 
sultation regarding the article about Thorn and Cracow. The 
reports of the sitting of January 3rd record only that Austria, 
in general agreement with the Russian proposals, demanded an. 
increase in the Austrian share of Poland. On the same day on 
which the course of affairs was so decisive, Metternich signed 
with Castlereagh and Talleyrand a war-aUiance against Prussia 
and Russia. The wording of this remarkable treaty was no less 
obscure than were the intentions of its originators ; there was 
good reason for shunning the Hght. " In consequence of recently 
mblished claims," the three powers pledged themselves mutually 
support one another with at least 150,000 men, in case any one 
^f them should be attacked or threatened on account of the just 
' id proper proposals they had brought forward in common ; an 
attack upon Hanover or the Netherlands was to be regarded as 
mtamount to an attack upon England. At the same time it was 

^ Metternich to Hardenberg, January 2, 1815. 

History of Germany 

the purpose of the three powers " to complete the proposals of 
the treaty of Paris in the manner which would express as fully 
as possible its true purpose and spirit." Other powers, especially 
the Netherlands and Hanover, were to be invited to co-operate. 
Thus, in order to carry into effect the treaty of Paris, which 
refused France any right to intervene in the territorial questions, 
Austria and England concluded an aUiance with France ! The 
treaty spoke only of a defensive alliance ; its real object was 
offensive. For should any opposition be offered to the " recently 
pubUshed claims," the status of Prussia in Saxony must first be 
attacked. In addition, a secret article contained the definite 
threat that if Bavaria, Hanover, or the Netherlands would not 
accept the invitation, they would " lose every right to the 
advantages which they might claim in virtue of the present 

In the view of its prime originator, Talleyrand, the unques- 
tionable intention of the alliance was to attack exhausted Prussia 
with an overwhelming force, and to overthrow her newly acquired 
position as a great power. The Frenchman stood at the goal 
of his desires. He said with perfect justice, " I have gained for 
France a position which could hardly have been secured by 
fifty years of fortunate negotiations " ; and he sent for General 
Ricard from Paris, to discuss with Schwarzenberg and Wrede the 
plan of campaign for the ensuing spring. Troops were already 
assembled in Bohemia, Wrede boasted of certain victory, but 
Miinster displayed the spirit of this incomparably disloyal policy 
by the frivolous exclamation, " We are playing a game en trois ; 
if the enemy is beaten we shall then quarrel with one another." 
Henceforward, Stein was never willing to repose any confidence 
in the Guelphs. In Friedrichsfelde a breath of relief was drawn. 
The imprisoned king gave his brother Antony full power to 
assume the regency in Saxony as soon as the army of the triple 
alliance should enter the kingdom, and received from the prince 
the joyful message : " My brother-in-law Francis will not treat 
our neighbours very graciously ! " Count Schulenburg looked 
for the speedy approach of the happy days when Prussia's power 
should have fallen, and Hanover should assume the leadership of 
the north — a prophecy in which may be readily recognised the 
echo of Guelph boasts. 

The compact of January 3rd had long-enduring indirect con- 
sequences. It reintroduced France into the society of states, 
and founded between the western powers that widely celebrated 


The Congress of Vienna 

entente cordiale which has since then, broken only by brief inter- 
vals, persisted down to our own days. At the court of Vienna, 
it led to the revival of Choiseul's idea of an alliance between the 
Catholic great powers, a policy which henceforward never failed 
to find powerful friends at the Hofburg. At the same time it 
foreshadowed a natural grouping of the powers, a grouping that 
was sure of a great future : on the one side, the western powers, 
Austria and the Porte ; on the other, the young states, Prussia, 
Russia, and the United States of America. Finally, Prussia 
learned what was to be expected from Austria, even under the 
aegis of peaceful duaUsm. Hardenberg, indeed, magnanimously and 
all too soon, forgot the " unhappy precipitation " of his Austrian 
friends ; but among the younger and more vigorous men of 
governmental circles, the memory of this breach of faith long 
remained active. The ancient and glorious Frederician traditions 
once more secured courageous recognition; and Eichhom, the 
statesman who in the subsequent long and quiet years of peace 
was to pursue with caution the policy of the great king, Eichhom 
the principal founder of the customs-union, took part in the 
Saxon negotiations with his incisive pen, and formed his judg- 
ment upon Austria from his experience of the congress of Vienna. 

There exists, however, an ultimate stage of folly, which in 
an orderly society of states cannot permanently be surpassed. 
Hardly had the treaty been signed when Castlereagh came to ask 
himself how he could face parhament with so utterly un-EngUsh 
a policy. Had England been fighting against the French power 
for a quarter of a century, in order that now 150,000 of Napoleon's 
veterans should once more cross the Rhine under the banner of 
the Ulies ? In Vienna, notwithstanding Talleyrand's denials, the 
Bonapartist sentiments of the French army were well known. 
Was the peace which had only been attained at the cost of bloody 
struggles to be disturbed once more — for the sake of one of 
Napoleon's satraps ? The criminal folly of such an undertaking 
began to enter the Englishman's understanding ; and even 
Metternich was concerned at the loud jubilation of the French 
and of the Rhenish Confederates. During the following weeks, 

I Sardinia, Bavaria, Hanover, and Darmstadt joined the alliance of 
January 3rd, and the inertia of the Orange government was so 
great as to lead to the tragi-comic result that the Netherlands 
did not formally join the war alUance against Prussia until April 
— at a moment when the world had for some time been metamor- 
phosed once more by Napoleon's return, and when Prussia's army 

History of Germany 

was already on the way to defend the Netherlands against France. 
But in truth the alliance was still-born, and a real danger of war 
existed for six days only. 

Already in the sitting of January 9th, Austria and England, 
upon Castlereagh's instigation, took the first step towards recon- 
ciliation. They gave a formal declaration that the negotiations 
about Saxony had as their sole purpose to provide for the 
Prussian state the compensation promised by treaty, and that, for 
this reason, the decision was in no way dependent upon the assent 
of Frederick Augustus. It was upon this condition alone that 
Prussia and Russia agreed to the now unavoidable participation 
of the French minister in the negotiations. On January 12th, 
Talleyrand took his place in the council of the great powers. The 
Committee of Four became enlarged to a Committee of Five, and 
these five constituted the real congress.^ The illustrious assembly 
had taken four months to constitute itself ! The overwhelming 
strength of the five great powers was manifested in face of all 
opposition. Now even Talleyrand did not find the hegemony of 
the great powers incompatible with " public law " ; not a word 
did he now utter of the fine-sounding reasons with which, at the 
beginning of the congress, he had defended the equal rights of 
all the states of Europe. 

The Prussian statesmen, too, began to recognise that some 
concessions were necessary. They did not, indeed, know any- 
thing at all about the compact of January 3rd. When the frontier 
negotiations made no advance, the Prussian plenipotentiaries, 
on one occasion, threatened the Netherlands minister, Nagell, 
that if Holland continued to prove intractable, Prussia would join 
herself to France. The Dutchman, triumphing over the unsus- 
pecting ignorance of the Prussians, immediately reported this 
threat to his EngUsh friends — so little was Hardenberg's chan- 
cellery aware that the war-alliance of the opponents had already 
been concluded. But the Prussians had long recognised that 
war was possible ; among numerous other threatening signs, there 
now came the definite news that England and Austria, upon 
Talleyrand's instigation, were endeavouring to induce the Porte 
to make an attack upon Russia. It could no longer be ignored 
that the annexation of Saxony could probably be secured only 
at the cost of a European war. Was the question whether the 
Albertine was to establish himself in Munster, Treves, or Dresden, 

* Thus writes Humboldt in his manuscript Systematic Description of the Pro- 
c$0dings of the Congress of Vienna, June 15, 18x5. 


The Congress of Vienna 

of sufficient importance, for it to be necessary on that account to 
summon the exhausted nation once more to arms ? The well- 
meaning men of the Prussian chancellery could not fail to be 
overcome at times by sentiments of patriotic shame when they 
looked back upon the lamentable course of the congress ; four 
months of unceasing disputes, and yet not a single positive gain 
for Germany ! So high did this discontent rise in the disillusioned 
nation, that even Goethe on one occasion descended wrathfully 
from his Olympian repose. On January 2nd, one of the Jena 
papers published a poem by the old master in which he declared 
that the congress had wasted its time in junketing, but had done 
nothing to establish the fatherland on a secure foundation — and, 
having delivered himself of this censure, the old man went 
imperturbably to the jubilee festival to wish happiness to the 
"worthy and upright " Frankenberg, the minister of Gotha. Varn- 
hagen assures us that the distinguished contempt expressed by 
the poet made a profound impression upon the best of the German 
diplomats : they realised even more painfully than before that as 
yet nothing whatever had been effected. Was the congress, which 
had been summoned in order to secure a permanent ordering for 
this distracted corner of the world, to end with a new European 

Hardenberg speedily recognised that he could not accept 
such a responsibihty. On January 12th, in the sitting of the 
Five, he still, indeed, demanded the whole of Saxony ; but 
secretly he had for several days been discussing with the faithful 
Hoffmann whether it was not desirable to renounce a portion of 
Saxony, and on January 13th he drew up a Plan tres-confidentiel, 
wherein he admitted the possibiUty that 840,000 of the inhabi- 
tants of Saxony should be restored to Frederick Augustus. In 
return for this concession, he demanded Bayreuth, " the cradle 
of our ancestors. Political and military considerations urge us, 
and the other powers as well, not to allow France, Bavaria, and 
Saxony to enter into the possession of an unbroken Une cutting 
across Germany from the French frontier to Bohemia and Prussia." 
The dread of a new Confederation of the Rhine was now, as before, 
determinative of Prussia's poHcy. 
K As soon as this resolution had been made known to the Five, 
^Ke ground was levelled for an understanding. The Saxon affair 
Hpsed to be a matter of principle, and there began an unedifying 
oispute for the individual fragments of Saxon territory. But 
the task of the Prussian negotiators still remained extremely 


History of Germany 

difficult. They demanded, above all, the defiles of the Saale as 
well as the fortresses of Wittenberg and Torgau ; the importance 
of these positions for the warfare of the day had been sufficiently 
proved in the wars of 1806 and 1813, and Hardenberg and Hum- 
boldt did not attempt to conceal their view that for many years 
to come it would be impossible to hope for a friendly and neigh- 
bourly relationship with the Albertines. They also demanded 
the greater part of Lusatia, with the wealthy Gorlitz, and, finally, 
Leipzig. The place was not only of much importance as the centre 
of the spiritual and economic Ufe of Upper Saxony ; the great 
fair-town, if it were to remain a Saxon frontier town, was likely 
to be extremely dangerous for the Prussian customs-system, as 
the seat of a vigorous smuggling traffic. Almost every one of 
these demands was vigorously opposed by the allies of January 
3rd. Talleyrand trembled for the German balance of power : 
if Torgau were to be allotted to Prussia, Austria would be com- 
pelled to maintain an invincible and costly army. Mettemich 
desired to limit the Prussian share to Lower Lusatia, and even 
offered the chancellor Tarnopol, which had already been specified 
for Austria herself, if he would only moderate his Saxon claims. 
Castlereagh, finally, wished to save Leipzig, in especial, for the 
Albertines, that is to say, to save it for the English smuggling 

It is extremely probable that Prussia, in face of so general a 
resistance, would, in this last stage of the Saxon question, still 
have chosen the shorter course, however reluctant to use the 
sword. But now there became manifest the advantageous conse- 
quences of the king's greatly criticised change of front. The czar 
firmly and openly supported all his friend's claims ; and since 
the opponents, with the solitary exception of France, did not 
really desire war, they ultimately conceded most of the Prusso- 
Russian demands. Talleyrand's muse revelled once more in the 
discovery of devices by which the firm understanding of the two 
powers might be broken. Alexander was supposed to have 
angrily exclaimed : " Oh ! if only I had not committed myself 
so far ! If only I had not given my word ! " and numerous 
similar anecdotes were circulated. It is quite possible that Czar- 
toryski advised his imperial friend to sacrifice Prussia : Talley- 
rand himself described the Pole as his most useful go-between. 
But ttie interests whereby Russian policy was bound to Prussian 
were stronger than Alexander's caprices, and stronger than the 
anti-German spirit of his Sarmatian adviser. Unless Prussia 


The Congress of Vienna 

were to be adequately compensated, Russia could not acquire the 
desired Prosna frontier. For this reason the czar remained true 
to his friend ; and, as Gentz angrily wrote to Karadja, he advo- 
cated the Prussian claims as zealously as his own. In the whole 
course of these final negotiations, Russia did not once separate 
herself from Prussia. If ultimately the czar derived greater 
advantage from the dispute than his ally, this was not owing to any 
breach of faith on the part of the Russians, but because it was 
only the Prussian claims, and not the Russian, which were any 
longer disputed by Austria and the western powers. It was the 
king's judicious pohcy which Prussia had to thank for the fact 
that, after arduous disputes, the defiles of the Saale and the North 
Thuringian land of Luther, the fortresses of the Elbe and 
Gorhtz, were acquired. It was only Leipzig which was obstinately 
defended by the Enghsh commercial pohcy. When all attempts 
at an understanding came to nought, Alexander finally resolved, 
upon the urgent representation of Castlereagh, to make a " sacri- 
fice " which went very much against the grain. On February 8th 
he offered as a substitute the fortress of Thorn and its neighbour- 

This was a poor exchange, and yet it was a proof of Alex- 
ander's goodwill. His Russians had long before made them- 
selves thoroughly at home in the fortress on the Vistula, and it 
was long before they could forgive the czar for yielding in this 
respect. Taking everything into consideration, the only possible 
solution, in view of the approximate equality in strength of the 
two parties, and in view of the reluctance of both to enter upon 
a war, was the partition of the land in dispute, however painful 
this compromise might be to the Saxon nation ; and it was due 
solely to Russia's assistance that the partition was conducted in 
a way so favourable to Prussia and that the Albertine had to 
surrender the greater half of his domain. 

The next thing to do was to seek elsewhere in Germany for 
the territory still necessary for Prussia's complete compensation. 

»The chancellor soon abandoned the unhappy idea of re- opening 
the Bayreuth question. On the other hand, Mettemich relin- 
quished the Moselle frontier to which he had so long and so 
obstinately adhered ; Prussia received Coblenz and the mountain 
country between the Saar and the Nahe. The Prussians did not 
conceal their feehng that the king took over the territory on the 

ileft bank of the Rhine for the sake of Germany, " only on behalf 
of the general welfare " ; in this way Prussia entered into a 

History of Germany 

threatened position just as much as Austria had formeriy done so 
by the acquirement of Belgium. It was precisely this endanger- 
ment, forced upon his rival, which was in Metternich's eyes the 
only consolation for the unwelcome advance of Prussia towards 
South Germany. " What a good thing it is," he said to his con- 
fidants, " that Prussia is now directly ' compromised ' with 
France ! " For the rest, he grudged a sufficient rounding-off 
of territory for Prussia even upon the left bank of the Rhine. 
A portion of the old department of Saar was retained, in order 
that here, immediately upon the endangered frontier, the claims 
of Oldenburg, Coburg, Romberg, Strelitz, and Pappenheim, 
should be satisfied. In Austria's view, it was a wise policy to 
involve as many petty states as possible in the defence of the 
Rhine frontier. It seemed as if the Hofburg desired to convince 
the neighbouring Alsace-Lorraine of the blessings of French 
national unity by offering a daily spectacle of the miseries of 
German particularism. Castlereagh, too, agreed that the demands 
of territory put forward by Hanover and the Netherlands ought 
to be somewhat modified for Prussia's advantage. 

During the last weeks an understanding was arrived at also in 
the Polish negotiations. By the convention of May 3, 1815, the 
neutral republic of Cracow was founded. A commission of the 
three partitioning powers (on which Jordan and Stagemann repre- 
sented Prussia) went to Cracow, to draw up the new constitution 
But it was felt from the first how nonviable was this most ludicrous 
of all the artificial creations of the congress ; the very instruc- 
tions to the commissaries threatened the intervention of the three 
powers if the young Free State should become a centre of disturb- 

The English plenipotentiary could not refrain from assum- 
ing once more that role which was so agreeable to British virtue, 
and at the same time so inexpensive, of protector of Sarmatian 
freedom ; he hoped in this way to pacify the whigs regarding the 
sacrifice of Poland. In a verbose circular note of January 12th, 
he demanded that, since an independent Poland under a Polish 
ruling house was unfortunately impossible, the three partitioning 
j)owers should at least pledge themselves " to treat the Poles as 
Poles." To the frank ignorance of the noble lord, it seemed 
possible to treat tlie three j)artitioning powers alike in this 
respect ; who could have hammered into his head the idea that 
Prussia was in quite another position towards the small territory 
of Posen, which was already partially Germanised, from that 


The Congress of Vienna 

occupied by Austria in relation to the Polish-Ruthenian Galicia, 
or by Russia in relation to the main part of the old nobles' 
republic ? If the eastern powers had wished to deal with this new 
and uncalled-for encroachment of England according to its 
deserts, they should have urgently exhorted the cabinet of St. 
James's to begin by treating the Irish as Irish. But they wisely 
refrained from provoking a vain struggle, and answered in polite, 
unmeaning letters. Hardenberg replied (January 30th) : Prussia 
was prepared to give to the Posen territory a constitution suitable 
to the customs and spirit of the inhabitants, and to show that 
national existence could continue undisturbed under any govern- 
ment. He would not agree to any hmitation of Prussian 
sovereignty. For Austria as for Prussia, it was an urgent duty 
that the hands should not be tied, for no one could foresee the 
course of Alexander's PoHsh experiments ; and the czar himself 
did not desire to be supervised in his plans for the promotion of 
national happiness. Consequently neither the closing act of the 
congress, nor the convention entered into by the three partitioning 
powers on May 3rd, contains a word to the effect that the Poles 
had any claim to political independence. All that the three powers 
said was : " Their Polish subjects are to retain institutions which 
shall secure the maintenance of Polish nationality in accordance 
with the governmental forms which the three participating govern- 
ments respectively think proper to impose." There was also an 
agreement concerning freedom of trade, subject at most to a duty 
of ten per cent., in the spontaneous produce of all the regions 
which had formerly been PoUsh ; and concerning free transit, sub- 
ject to moderate duties, and free shipping (not subject to any 
prohibitions) upon the Polish rivers down to the seaports. The 
partitioning powers were pledged only to respect the language 
and the customs of the people, and to favour commerce to a 
moderate extent ; in all other respects they retained a free hand. 

Towards the middle of February, the territorial negotiations 

among the great powers were nearly completed. Talleyrand's 

lesire for war had encountered an insuperable obstacle in the 

meral longing for peace ; he gained no decisive influence in the 
Committee of Five, and the yelping pack of his Rhenish Con- 

lerate associates was simply ignored by the great powers. It is 
le that the German constitution still remained in profound 

)scurity ; but since the Hofburg regarded the speedy solution 
this question as of trifling importance, Gentz drew up a pom- 

)us manifesto to announce to a wondering world, " the great 


History of Germany 

work of the congress is now concluded." At this moment Napoleon 
returned from Elba, and before the breath of the Imperator the 
card-house of the Bourbon glories, which had been so boastfully 
described by Talleyrand, was dispersed to all the winds of heaven. 
The French minister, who had just given a pathetic assurance that 
milUons of French arms would be raised against the Corsican, 
became in a single night an impotent man. On January 4th, 
Talleyrand had written in triumph to the king : " The coalition 
is dissolved for ever ! " Now the common danger once more drew 
the four allied powers together, and the remaining territorial 
questions were speedily settled. Vainly did Napoleon endeavour 
to break the new coalition by sending to the czar the original copy 
of the compact of January 3rd which he had found in the Tuileries, 
in Louis XVIII's writing-table. Alexander, in Stein's presence, 
burned the unclean document before Mettemich's unashamed eyes. 
It was no longer a time to think of past disloyalties. 

The Imperator's return brought to a final conclusion the long 
drawn out negotiations concerning the future of Italy. Here 
in the south, as elsewhere, England proved the most trusted ally 
of the Hofburg. With Russia's aid, however, the Piedmontese 
statesmen, D'AgUe and Brusasco, frustrated the secret aim of Met- 
temich to constitute an ItaUan league of princes under Austrian 
leadership. Austria's desire to exclude the Savoy-Carignan line 
from the succession to the throne of Piedmont also proved 
impossible of attainment owing to the decisive opposition of Russia 
and France. All the more tenaciously did the Hofburg maintain 
its old claims upon the Legations ; Austria had occupied the entire 
Pontifical State with her troops, and hoped with good reason to 
retain at least the land to the north of the Apennines. Metter- 
nich rejected the proposal of the Bourbon court to constitute an 
Italian committee at the congress, after the example of the 
German committee, for the decision of this question ; he feared to 
be outvoted, especially since the Bourbons also had put in a claim 
for Tuscany. Meanwhile disturbances began in the peninsula ; the 
premature rejoicings of the Lombards on account of the entry of 
the Tedeschi soon gave place to profound discontent ; the popu- 
lace of Romagna intrigued against the Austrian troops ; a few 
patriotic conspirators carried on secret intercourse with the prisoner 
of Elba. When now the greatest of the Italians opened his adven- 
turous campaign, and when Murat in Naples armed for war, in 
Vienna incalculable complications were feared. A prudent change 
of policy was effected, and an understanding was speedily arrived 


The Congress of Vienna 

at with the so-called legitimist powers of the peninsula. Tuscany 
was rescued for the archdukes, the Bourbons were temporarily 
put off with Lucca, and the whole of the old Pontifical State was 
restored to the pope. It was only Polesine, the rich lowlands 
in the delta of the Po, which remained in Austrian hands. Prussia 
took little part in these negotiations ; but the king, out of con- 
sideration for his new CathoUc subjects, regarded it as his loyal 
duty to intervene repeatedly and expressly on behalf of the 
re-establishment of the Pontifical State ; in the general view of those 
romantic days the existence of the Roman Church was inseparably 
associated with the temporal power of the papacy. The Roman 
See entered a formal protest against the reduction in size of the 
Pontifical State. No one paid any attention. Modern Europe 
was already accustomed to find that all its great peace- 
determinations were accompanied by the execrations of the 
curia. The nuncio, however, conveyed to Piquot, the 
Prussian charge d'affaires, the pope's cordial thanks for the 
good feeling that the chancellor had displayed towards the 
CathoHc Church.^ 

No understanding was reached upon the eastern question ; 
nowhere else was so crudely displayed as here that internal decay 
from which, despite all external gUtter, the Austrian monarchy 
was unmistakably suffering. The state which in former days 
when the Turks were a great power had been the defender 
of the Christian world against Islam, now, when the Porte had 
been overthrown, bhnd to the signs of the times, pusillanimously 
left to Russian policy the completion of its own work. 
In February, the czar laid before the powers a comprehensive 
proposal in accordance with which they were all to pledge them- 
selves to intervene on behalf of the rights of the rayahs, Russia 
in especial playing the part of protector of the Orthodox Chris- 
tians, and Austria and France that of protectors of the Latin 
Christians. "There is," said the Russian note, "an unwritten 
law-book of international rights, whose powers are in full 
operation, and which guarantees equal rights to all nations." 
Metternich rejected this revolutionary proposal with great 
indignation. The czar, however, was far from incHned to give the 
guarantee desired by the Hofburg for the existence of Turkey ; 
nor was England wilUng to burden herself with such incalculably 
onerous responsibilities. The result was that in Vienna absolutely 

io resolution was arrived at regarding Turkey, and the eastern 
L * Piquot's Report, Vienna, September 29, 1814. 


History of Germany 

question was tacitly shelved among the numerous other unsolved 
duties of the congress. 

Whilst the great powers were carrying on their deliberations, 
Hardenberg completed another difficult diplomatic task, the 
settlement with Hanover, Sweden, and Denmark. These three- 
fold negotiations, which were protracted over several months, 
displayed, in their extraordinarily complicated interconnections, 
how wide a horizon must be embraced by the vision of Prus- 
sian statesmen, and how closely our state, thanks to its central 
position, was affected even by the most remote affairs of Europe. 
They secured for the fatherland one permanent gain, the libera- 
tion of Pomerania from the last vestiges of foreign dominion. 
Notwithstanding the peace of Kiel, which handed over to Den- 
mark the territory to the north of the Peene, the chancellor held 
firmly to his plan to secure Hither Pomerania and Riigen for 
Prussia ; the hard struggle in which, with pen and with sword, the 
Hohenzollems had for nearly two hundred years been engaged 
on behalf of their ancient hereditary dominion, was to be ter- 
minated once for all. But how was the legal possessor, Denmark, 
to be compelled to cede the country, since Prussia had nothing 
whatever to demand from the Danish crown ? Hardenberg 
rendered this important acquisition possible by a clever utilisation 
of the confused disputes which were agitating the Scandinavian 

In order to influence the Danes to an amicable cession of Hither 
Pomerania,Mt was first of all necessary to resume friendly rela- 
tions with this thorny little neighbour. It was characteristic 
of Hardenberg's finesse that, on August 25, 1814, he unhesi- 
tatingly signed peace with Denmark. The wits mocked Harden- 
berg's family peace ; the chancellor signed for Prussia, and his 
son, Count Hardenberg-Reventlow (who was completely estranged 
from his father), signed for Denmark. Since the two powers 
could hardly be said to have fought seriously against one another, 
the treaty involved no more than the simple confirmation of the 
peace of Kiel, and the repetition of the assurance given in that 
peace that Denmark should receive compensation for Norway in 
addition to Swedish Pomerania. But I^russia reserved the right 
to demand compensation for the losses which her flag had suffered 
from the Danish privateers. Regarding Heligoland, which by the 
peace of Kiel had been definitely ceded to England, not a word 
was said cither in these BerUn negotiations or subsequently at 
the congress of Vienna. There was no legal right to demand the 


The Congress of Vienna 

island for Germany, since it had never belonged to the old empire ; 
such was the inland limitation of German policy that there 
was no general understanding of the value of this place, whose 
importance in relation to German trade had so recently been dis- 
played in the days of the Continental System, The widespread 
enthusiasm for generous-hearted Albion found no objection in 
England's quiet foundation of a little North German Gibraltar. 

Confiding in this treaty, the king of Denmark came to 
Vienna, hoping there to acquire, in addition to Hither Pomerania, 
Liibeck and Hamburg, or at least the princedom of Liibeck. He 
was the boon companion of the illustrious society, arousing much 
amusement by his droll sailor's jests, but his policy found no sup- 
porters ; Napoleon's faithful ally stood quite alone among the 
statesmen of legitimacy. Lord Castlereagh did not consider it 
his duty even to keep the pledge given to the little state upon 
which England had twice made a predatory attack. All that the 
king of Denmark could secure was the continuance of the Sound 
dues, which was, indeed, a valuable concession to the Danish 
finances. When Metternich, taking leave, said to the king, " Sire, 
vous emportez tous les coeurs ! " the betrayed man answered, 
with a sigh, " Mais pas une seule ame." Meanwhile, even Hither 
Pomerania had been lost to the Danes. The Norwegians, led by 
the Danish stadtholder. Prince Christian, had disregarded the 
peace of Kiel, had given their land an independent constitution, 
and had chosen their stadtholder as king ; thereupon Bemadotte 
had invaded the country with his Swedes, and, after a campaign 
lasting a fortnight, in the treaty of Moss (August 14, 1814) 
Prince Christian abandoned his claims. Subsequently, by negotia- 
tions between the crown of Sweden and the Storthing of Norway, 
the union of the two kingdoms of the Scandinavian peninsula 
was effected. Even to this day it remains obscure to what 
extent the famous Danish loyalty co-operated in this uprising of 
the Norwegians. Naturally, however, the cunning Frenchman who 
now guided the destinies of Sweden had no doubt regarding the 
complicity of the court of Copenhagen ; he declared that the 
peace of Kiel had been broken by Denmark, and that for this 
-reason Hither Pomerania could not be handed over. 
M Naturally, it was not for Prussia to play the part of unpre- 
i^diced judge in these unedifying negotiations among the northern 

fwers. National policy demanded that the dispute for German 
Titory among the foreigners should be turned to German 
vantage, in order to restore the lost Mark to the fatherland. 

History of Germany 

The task was one specially created for Hardenberg's supple adroit- 
ness. Fortunately, on this occasion, Austria and France, in former 
days the most obstinate enemies of the Pomeranian policy of the 
Hohenzollems, remained altogether indifferent. The chancellor 
first came to an understanding with Sweden. Bernadotte was 
prepared to cede to Prussia his claims upon Hither Pomerania in 
return for a sum of money ; on May 13, 1815, Miinster reported 
it to the prince regent as indubitable that Prussia and Sweden 
had long before come to terms. Thus protected on the side of 
Sweden, Hardenberg produced his claims against the Danish 
privateers, endeavouring to induce the Danes to renounce Hither 
Pomerania. This could be effected only by the offer of some 
compensation in land and people, for Denmark had unquestion- 
ably the better legal right to Hither Pomerania. In the whole 
wide world there was, however, only one territory which might 
perhaps be offered to the Danes in compensation. This was the 
duchy of Lauenburg, on the right bank of the Elbe. But what 
a proposal ! For the seventy-five square miles [German] of 
wealthy Hither Pomerania, were to be offered nineteen square 
miles in Lauenburg ; for the naval fortress of Riigen, for the 
beautiful Stralsund, and for the University of Greifswald — no more 
than the tomb of Till Eulenspiegel, and two-thirds of the good 
town of Ratzeburg (for the cathedral square belonged to StreHtz) ! 
Nothing but the difficulties by which the Copenhagen cabinet was 
threatened from all sides made it seem possible that Denmark 
would agree to so unequal an exchange, which offered but one 
advantage, the rounding-off of the Holstein territory. 

Legally, however, Lauenburg belonged to the House of 
Hanover, and for this reason the acquirement of Hither Pomerania 
was dependent upon an understanding with the Guelphs, to whom, 
in addition, Prussia was indebted to the extent of 250,000 to 
300,000 souls on account of the enlargement stipulated for at 
Reichenbach. It was already determined that Hildesheim was 
to be utilised for this compensation ; on the other hand, the king 
had steadfastly rejected the cession of East Frisia, and since 
then the loyal little people had become even dearer to his heart. 
Nevertheless disquieting rumours ran through the country, where 
it was believed that cession to the Guelphs was still likely to be 
effected. Greatly concerned, Vincke, the lord-lieutenant, wrote 
to the chancellor ; on no account must this essentially German 
people be sacrificed, for an East Frisian was worth more than 
twenty semi French Rhenish Confederates ; moreover, the posses- 


The Congress of Vienna 

sion of the Ems afforded the only free access to the north, and was 
the sole means of escaping the Rhine dues of the Dutch. 

Thus the dispute for Hither Pomerania gave the Guelph 
diplomats a convenient excuse for renewing the attempt which 
had failed at Reichenbach. The chancellor now demanded Lauen- 
burg from the Guelphs, and since in addition he had in accord- 
ance with the treaty to provide further enlargement for Hanover, 
Miinster speedily saw his advantage, and in compensation asked 
for East Frisia and that " isthmus " of Gottingen territory which, 
according to Hardenberg's plans, was to connect the eastern 
province of Prussia with the western. This last demand could 
not be rejected, but it was long remembered in Berhn as a plain 
proof of the ill-will of the Guelphs, for if Hanoverian sentiments 
had been honourable, if there had been a genuine desire to keep 
on good terms with Prussia, to be surrounded by Prussia could 
not have been regarded by the Guelph court as a threatening 
situation. Still more profoundly hurt was the king by the pro- 
posal regarding East Frisia ; no other of the many disillusion- 
ments of this unhappy period touched him so profoundly. For 
many months, on into March, he obstinately refused ; how often 
did he send Knesebeck to the chancellor on this account, and this 
was always an unmistakable sign of depression. The Guelphs, 
however, stood fast upon their documentary rights. It was not 
as if the mouth of the Ems had any real significance to them from 
the point of view of commercial policy ; in the eyes of the nobles' 
government of the Guelphs, the magnificent rivers of Lower 
Saxony existed simply in order to be burdened with lucrative 
customs dues. But East Frisia bordered on Holland ; and alike 
in London, in Hanover, and in The Hague, an uninterruptedly 
continuous north-western Guelph-Orange power was regarded as 
essential to maintain a balance against the Prussian neighbour. 
For this reason Miinster persisted in his demand, and Frederick 
William was ultimately forced to decide whether Hither Pomerania 
^or East Frisia was the more important for Prussia. Hardenberg's 
opinion was absolutely in favour of retaining Hither Pomerania ; 
(or, since the land frontier in the east had been rendered so 
mfavourable by the loss of Warsaw, it was indispensable to 

*russia that upon the coast at least she should be able to protect 
ierself, and should retain the control of the mouths of the Oder 

itirely in her own hands ; East Frisia, important as it was, was 

fter all no more than an outpost. 

A still more serious consideration in Hardenberg's eyes was 


History of Germany 

that of national policy. The long struggle for the Uberation of 
Pomerania must not come to an end by the instalment of the 
Danes, who were already in the bay of Kiel, upon the Strela Sound. 
On the other hand, Hanover, even during her union with England, 
had always counted as a German land ; and at that time, when 
Princess Charlotte was still alive, its complete separation from 
Great Britain seemed near at hand, for this might be expected to 
follow upon the death of the prince regent. Ceded to Hanover, 
East Frisia would not be lost to Germany. It was not in criminal 
levity that Hardenberg sacrificed East Frisia, although such was 
the accusation brought against him by embittered patriots ; he 
weighed the pros and cons of the complicated question conscien- 
tiously, and then, with his sound political sense, chose the lesser 
of two evils. As early as February 15th, he had an article for 
the Berlin newspapers composed in the chancellery, intended to 
prepare readers for the cession of East Frisia, and at the same time 
to indicate that this painful sacrifice was the only means for the 
acquirement of the incomparably more valuable Hither Pomerania. 
This article, however, was unnoticed alike by contemporaries and 
by subsequent historians. Finally, in March, the king gave a 
reluctant assent. Thereupon there appeared an ultimate and 
unexpected obstacle. According to the absurd family tradition 
of the Guelphs, East Frisia was an ancient hereditary dominion 
of the Guelph House, which had accrued to Prussia only through 
force and cunning. Consequently the prince regent learned with 
extreme indignation that for the return of this primitively Guelph 
territory he was to hand over Lauenburg. He resisted to the 
utmost ; this most unloving of all sons suddenly experienced senti- 
ments of filial tenderness, declaring that it was impossible for his 
" delicacy " to allow him to cede a province while his mentally 
disordered father was still alive. Miinster had to use all his 
eloquence ; he explained to the enraged prince that Lauenburg was 
in fact absolutely essential for Prussia's Pomeranian plans. Should 
difficulties be raised, it was likely that the king of Prussia, already 
greatly embittered, would throw up the entire negotiation ; finally, 
too, there was the delightful prospect that in the new war with 
Napoleon Prussia would once more have need of the good English 
gold, and then Lauenburg could be again detached from the ally ! 
This reasoning had its due effect, and the tender conscience of the 
Guelph was appeased. 

Thus on May 29th the treaty of exchange between Prussia 
and Hanover came into effect : Lauenburg was exchanged for 


The Congress of Vienna 

Hildesheim, Goslar, East Frisia, and part of County Lingen ; 
in addition, there were to be two Prussian military roads through 
Hanover as a substitute for the desired " isthmus." In this way, 
the demands the Guelphs had formerly made at Reichenbach were 
by the Saxon negotiations reduced by about 50,000 souls. On 
June 4th Denmark ceded her rights in Swedish Pomerania to 
Prussia, receiving in exchange Lauenburg with two million thalers ; 
but the state-treasury was so utterly depleted that it had to be 
made a condition that this trifling sum should be paid in four 
half-yearly instalments, beginning with the new year of 1816 ! 
Finally, on June 7th, Sweden, in return for three and a half 
million thalers, abandoned her last claims to German soil, and 
simultaneously restored to the new suzerain the Hither Pomeranian 
domains which had been aUenated during recent years. Thus 
Prussia exchanged East Frisia and more than five million thalers 
for a land which at that time (it is true under very lax adminis- 
tration) produced a yearly surplus of no more than 224,000 thalers. 
From the purely mercantile outlook, this was certainly a bad 
stroke of business, and it was only Sweden which stood to gain 
by the complicated transaction ; but the German nation had good 
reason to thank the chancellor for the fulfilment of this difficult task. 
It was full time to separate Hither Pomerania from the life 
of Scandinavia. For nearly two centuries the country had been 
wholly attached to the three crowns of the north ; how late in 
life had even Arndt, when nearly forty years of age, regained 
consciousness of his German nationality ! How many hun- 
dred times had the people of Riigen opened their festivals to the 
strains of the ancient Swedish song : Gustafs sk^l ! In the begin- 
ning of the century, upon solemn occasions, the merchants of 
Stralsund sang the national song : 

"Themselves let politicians please ! 

Should France or England win the day. 
No ship of ours can either seize. 
What matters then to us the fray ? " 

Jubsequently, when the blue and yellow flag could no longer adorn 
^he vessels of the Stralsund shippers, this comfortable sentiment 
Jgan indeed to give place to a more manly feeling ; but the landed 
jentry and the patriciates of the towns, loaded by the Swedish 
crown with valuable privileges, regarded the equal justice of 
Prussian administration with extremely mixed sentiments. Then 


History of Germany 

the feeling of the country became transformed with remarkable 
speed. The crown of Sweden itself recognised that the natural 
order of things was re-established by the entry of the Prussians. 
King Charles XIII, taking leave of his loyal Pomeranians, said 
that Sweden had gained " an insular situation " by the acquire- 
ment of Norway, and was therefore less than ever in a position 
to defend the remote German province. And within a few years 
this valiant German land was to confirm the promise uttered by 
Count Bohlen, the spokesman of the knighthood, at the swear- 
ing in, when he said : " We shall show that under a foreign 
government we have not forgotten how to be Germans." 

In East Frisia, on the other hand, profound distress prevailed. 
For a long time no one would believe the bearers of evil tidings ; 
the royal authorities gave repeated assurances that they had no 
official news of the cession. The brave Landwehr regiment of the 
province continued to fight under the Prussian flag at Ligny and 
Waterloo ; as late as July, 1815, a deputation of the estates was 
despatched to Paris, whose members, in unison with the men of 
the Landwehr, implored the king not to hand over the province. 
Hostility to the noble land of Hanover was so general in this 
country of commerce and of peasant freedom, that the authori- 
ties did not venture to complete the cession until the end of 1815. 
Even then the old loyalty persisted. For how long a date did the 
East Frisian students in Gottingen continue to wear the black- 
and-white cockade in their caps, and when, singing the Landesvater, 
they raised the strains, Friedrich Wilhelm lebe hoch, it was with tears 
in their eyes. Until the king's death. East Frisia continued to 
celebrate its " ancient and glorious festival " ; as late as August 
3» 1830, the visitors at the marine spa of Norderney saw with 
astonishment that at every fisherman's cottage on the island the 
Prussian flag was waving. 

Whilst in these transactions the chancellor was able cleverly 
to maintain the interests of the state, in the negotiations with 
the Netherlands he had to pay the consequences for his early 
precipitation. None of the extravagant concessions which, during 
the winter campaign, had been made to the pet child of English 
policy, could now be recalled ; nor did Hardenberg himself, while 
in Vienna, succeed in learning that this House of Orange, which 
had been re-established by the force of Prussian arms, cherished 
decidedly hostile sentiments towards Germany. He continued 
to regard the Netherlands as a firm outwork of Germany, and 
was delighted that Luxemburg, at least, should join the Germanic 


The Congress of Vienna 

Federation. Although this Httle country was still animated by a 
warlike spirit and by decidedly anti-French sentiments, the memory 
of the Austrian Latour-dragoons and of the yagers of Le Loup, 
still remained fresh in the minds of the people. The Prussian 
diplomats did not resent the legitimist zeal exhibited by the Orange 
representative in the Saxon negotiations, for, to Gagern's astonish- 
ment, they manifested an " unusually yielding disposition." 

There was, indeed, no longer any question of Jiilich and other 
promises made in Paris ; but Prussia declared herself to be pre- 
pared to cede a portion of Guelderland and the vicinity of the 
fortress of Venloo, and here once again learned the hostile senti- 
ments of the English statesmen. Gagern demanded la lisihe de 
la Meuse ; Prussian Guelderland was to be cut off from its natural 
water-course, the Meuse ; the frontier was to be withdrawn every- 
where at least two and a half miles to the east of the river. He 
appealed to the duke of WeUington, who, still completely under 
the dominion of the doctrine of the balance of power traditional 
in the eighteenth century, and inspired by a profound mistrust 
of restless Prussian ambition, had expressed as a military expert 
the extraordinary view that without this lisUre the Nether- 
lands would be threatened by Prussia. In the good-natured hope 
of securing the House of Orange for all future time as a grateful 
ally, Hardenberg was weak enough to give way to this preposterous 
claim ; and it was in this way that Germany acquired that north- 
west frontier whose Hke cannot be found upon the map of Europe. 

Within the next few months, Prussia was to learn the grati- 
tude of the Dutch traders. Among all Prussia's neighbours, the 
House of Orange displayed itself as the most hostile and the most 
grasping. In opposition to the spirit and the wording of the 
treaties of Vienna, the Netherlands immediately reimposed those 
scandalous Rhine dues whereby the Dutch RepubHc had formerly 
misused the German hinterland. Since the statistical resources 
of that day were extremely defective, and Hasselt's Handbook of 
Geography served the diplomats as the last source of wisdom, into 
all the territorial agreements of the congress there entered a few 
minor errors, which by a little good feeling on the part of the states 
concerned could subsequently have easily been rectified. It was 
through such an oversight that the two Prussian roads from Aix- 
la-Chapelle to Eupen and Geilenkirchen passed, for two short 
stretches, across Dutch territory ; here the Dutch temporarily 
erected customs houses, and subjected the Prussian internal traffic 
to their tolls. When at length a mixed commission met to effect 


History of Germany 

a definite determination of the frontier, the Dutch contested every 
soul, every tree, and every inch of land. * Concerning the zinc- 
mines of Altenburg it was absolutely impossible to come to an 
understanding ; this celebrated " neutral territory " on the Belgo- 
Prussian frontier still reminds us to-day of the friendly and neigh- 
bourly sentiments of the Dutch. Such accumulated proofs of 
Orange gratitude, and in especial the increasing hindrance offered 
to the Rhine shipping, soon had as their result the cooling of the 
friendly feelings of the Berlin cabinet for the court of The Hague. 
Another of Prussia's smaller opponents, Bavaria, had occa- 
sion bitterly to repent her foolish hostility. If any one of the 
German princely houses was dependent uj)on the friendship of 
Prussia by dynastic interests, this was unquestionably the House 
of Wittelsbach, which had so often been saved by the Hohen- 
zollems. Even in the year 1814, Prussian statesmen, despite 
their well-grounded mistrust of Montgelas, had no hostile feelings 
towards the Bavarian state. It is true that they did not wish to 
confide the fortress of Mainz to these untrustworthy hands ; but 
in Paris Hardenberg was inclined to give the Palatinates of Baden 
and of the left bank of the Rhine to Bavaria ; and even in Vienna 
Humboldt advised that the Bavarians should be won over by 
concessions if they should exhibit any kind of goodwill for the 
Germanic Federation. The shamelessly un-German sentiment 
openly displayed by the associates of Montgelas, the boastful 
hostility of Wrede, and the filthy attacks of the " Hterary 
incendiaries " of the court of Munich, compelled the chancellery 
to adopt a different attitude. By old inclination and by custom 
Montgelas was bound to France, and was personally hostile to 
the leaders of the North German patriots, especially to Stein and 
Gorres. Wrede hoped by his noisy zeal on behalf of Frederick 
Augustus to secure the gratitude of Austria, England, and France, 
and with their help to gain valuable compensation for Salzburg 
and the Lower Inn region. This was a grave political error even 
when regarded from the outlook of purely dynastic policy. England 
never concerned herself much about the South German 
territorial questions; towards the close of the congress France 
lost all influence, and Austria soon manifested herself to be a 
faithless friend. 

The great powers came to terms over the Saxon question, 
and the only result of Wrede's presumptuous importunity was 
that he incurred general dislike ; even in the circles of the Rhenish 

' C/. Sack's General Report, March 31, 1816. 

The Congress of Vienna 

Confederate diplomats, the Bavarians were spoken of as " les 
Prussiens du Midi." Alxve all, the czar was profoundly 
embittered, and gladly Hstened to the reiterated assurances of 
Baron von Stein that it would be extremely dangerous to permit 
the aggrandisement of the central state of the Confederation of the 
Rhine. Frederick William was astonished to learn from Kiister, 
the Prussian envoy, that in patriotic circles in Munich there was 
general talk concerning a war against Prussia " as one of the 
most natural and easiest things in the world." * Was this state 
to be permitted to hem in the whole of South Germany ? But the 
chancellor could not now regard in any other light the union of 
the Badenese Palatinate with Bavaria, since the desired settlement 
of Austria on the Upper Rhine had not been effected. Was Prussia 
bound in any way by those ready promises which Mettemich had, 
on his own initiative and secretly, given to the Bavarians ? If 
Prussia had been unable to secure the formally promised uninter- 
rupted continuity of her domains, why should not Bavaria have 
to make a like renunciation ? Why should Baden and the two 
Hesses, which could never be a serious danger to Germany, suffer 
severe robbery in order to effect a quite inequitable aggrandise- 
ment for the most powerful state of the Confederation of the 
Rhine ? 

These simple political and legal considerations gradually led 
the king and the chancellor to determine that the court of Munich 
should be allowed no more than full compensation for the provinces 
ceded to Austria. It is true that the Bavarian negotiators, after 
they had chaffered throughout the winter with a commission 
of the great powers, succeeded, on April 23rd, 1815, in concluding 
a provisional treaty with the powers of the coalition, in accordance 
with which, for Salzburg and the Lower Inn region, Bavaria was 
to receive disproportionate compensation, namely, the greater 
part of the Palatinate on the left bank of the Rhine, Hanau, and 
a large portion of the eastern Odenwald ; in addition, it was 
promised that the Wittelsbachs should receive " the reversion of 
the Badenese Palatinate," as soon as the ruling Hne of the House 
of Baden should become extinct. Since that time the reversi- 
bilite du Palatinat has run like a red thread through all the trans- 
formations of recent Bavarian poUcy. Above all the crown prince 
1^ Louis was under the dominion of this idea ; he had now to hand 
Hover his beautiful and beloved Salzburg, where during recent years 
^^B he had established his court, and he desired to regain in return, at 

^^B * Ktister's Report of May 17, 1815. Similarly in several other despatches. 
■ 89 

History of Germany 

least the " cradle of his race," although there was absolutely no 
legal ground for the claim. Years before, Bavaria had ceded the 
Palatinate on the right bank of the Rhine, in return for exces- 
sive compensation, and without reserve ; there was no obvious 
reason why the territory should revert to the Wittelsbachs as soon 
as the succession in Baden passed to the counts of Hochberg. It 
was only the disapproval of the great powers for the neglectful 
regime of the grand-duke Charles of Baden, which favoured for a 
time these presumptuous Bavarian claims. But the April treaty 
was still-born for it was expressly subject to the " assent of the 
sovereigns concerned," and Wiirtemberg, Baden, and the two Hesses 
immediately raised loud objections. Prior to this, Marschall, 
the Badenese plenipotentiary, had written to the chancellor: 
" Through all the sanguinary wars which disturbed Europe 
during his reign, Louis XIV did not gain one million inhabitants 
for the French monarchy, and now Bavaria, by a coup de main, 
by a simple negotiation, is to enrich herself by 400,000 subjects." ^ 
He now renewed his protest. Frederick William, too, found it 
extremely unjust that Hanau should be detached from Electoral 
Hesse without any legal ground. The consequence was that the 
April treaty was not ratified, and the final act of the congress 
left the dispute unsettled. 

It was amid such struggles that the re-establishment of the 
Prussian monarchy was effected. The outcome of the Viennese 
negotiations was a partial defeat for Prussian policy, for neither 
upon the Rhine, nor in Saxony, nor yet upon the Polish frontier, 
had Prussia completely gained her ends. As compared with the 
status quo of 1805, the country was at least six hundred square 
miles [German] smaller, and had been increased by barely half 
a million inhabitants ; the promised rounding-off had not been 
effected, for Prussia was still separated into two widely detached 
areas. In addition, a royal house hostile to the Hohenzollern 
had been reinstated, a nonviable middle-sized state, which could 
never reacquire healthy political conditions. The four petty kings 
ruled nearly one-fourth of the domain of the Germanic Federa- 
tion ; Napoleon's pet creation, the new power of the middle-sized 
states, had weathered all the storms of the time. Profound dis- 
satisfaction was felt throughout the Prussian nation at the issue 
of the diplomatic struggle. Blucher aptly voiced public opinion 
when he wrote : " We drove a fine bull to Vienna and brought 
i Marschall to Ilardcnberg, March 5, 18 15. 

The Congress of Vienna 

away in exchange a mangy old ox." Prussia's enemies made no 
concealment of their malicious joy. Not satisfied with the results 
they had actually attained, they spread abroad the fable that the 
Prussian state had unwillingly been compelled to burden herself 
with Rhineland in place of the southern half of Saxony, whereas 
Hardenberg's desire had from the first been to acquire Rhine- 
land as well as Saxony. All, however, were agreed in hoping 
that so artificial a political structure could not possibly endure. 

Yet Prussia's enemies exulted too soon. The artificiality of 
this state-structure was not found in the fact that it simultaneously 
ruled the furthest boundaries of the east and of the west, but 
simply in this, that it was not yet complete, that the territories 
which constituted the natural connecting links between these two 
provinces, had not yet been acquired. Notwithstanding all failures 
in matters of detail, Prussia had gained through the Viennese 
negotiations the possibility of healthy and vigorous further develop- 
ment. The danger of a new Confederation of the Rhine, which in 
Vienna seemed so threatening, was abolished for a long time by 
Napoleon's return and subsequent defeat. The weakness of the 
Bourbons was plain to all ; the influence of France upon the small 
courts, an influence which Prussia had so obstinately resisted, 
remained in fact during subsequent decades extremely trifling. 
How different now, too, was the position of Germany in relation to 
the restless neighbour nation, now that the North German great 
power had undertaken to guard the Rhine in place of those miser- 
able spiritual princes who were in the pay of the court of Versailles. 
Free from her burdensome Polish possessions, Prussia became more 
closely entwined than ever with the life of Germany ; to the young 
trans-Elbian colonies there were added the old lands of Rhenish 
civilisation with their mighty towns and their developed 
manufacturing industry. Henceforward there were no German 
interests which were not intimately associated with the Prussian 
state. As Frederick Wilham said, Prussia possessed not a single 
village except with the assent of the whole of Europe, and thereby 
acquired the needed security for the permeation of the variegated 
new domains with the Prussian spirit and the Prussian system. 
If this unspeakably difficult task should be fulfilled, if the truth 
should be proved of the fine phrase used at this time by the king, 
" Germany has gained what Prussia has gained," then the half 
success of the Viennese negotiations might readily become as full 
of blessing as had in former days been the diplomatic defeat of 
the Great Elector at the Westphahan peace congress. It was not, 


History of Germany 

in truth, in arrogance that Hardenberg had asked his opponents 
whether they really wished to force Prussia to strive for fresh 
enlargements. Only to the stupidity of the Hofburg and of the 
petty states was the delusion possible that the new structure of 
Prussia was one devoid of capacity for endurance, that a great 
power could not persist in so unnatural a situation. Half of 
Germany was under the Prussian sceptre. If here the unified state 
of Germany should first be firmly and securely grounded, sooner 
or later the hour must come when the sword of Frederick would 
again be drawn from the scabbard in order to restore to the father- 
land the other half which still manifested in all its members the 
after-effects of two hundred years of foreign dominion. 


A generation later, when the representatives of the nation, 
without the co-operation of the princes, were discussing the recon- 
stitution of the German unified state, they wasted the fortunate 
hour in deliberations concerning the fundamental rights of the 
people. The same obscure impulse towards self-seeking dominated 
the diplomats who, without the co-operation of the nation, were 
negotiating in Vienna concerning Germany's future ; at a very 
early stage, the work of constructing the German constitution 
became arrested, the dispute concerning the dynastic interests 
of the House of Wettin continued for months to occupy all the 
energies of the congress, and it was not until towards the end 
of the great diet of princes, when affairs had already assumed an 
altogether hopeless aspect, that in excessive haste the German 
federal act was drafted. Certainly prospects had never been 
extremely favourable. It was per se an impossible task to give 
a firm political form to a country whose boundaries could be 
defined by no one, to give such a form to the indefinite idea " Ger- 
many," The pitiless pressure of necessity, which had formerly 
compelled the individual states of North America unwillingly to 
renounce their sovereignty, was not operative at this moment 
when all the world hoped for a period of prolonged peace. Conse- 
quently the political natural law which drives every state to defend 
its own ego, its independence, to the utmost, was displayed in all 
its harshness and nakedness. Veneration for the great father- 
land, gratitude towards its liberators, shame for their own 
criminality, were not to be expected from the slaves of Napoleon. 


The Congress of Vienna 

Moreover a cultured public opinion, a passionate national 
will, strong enough to carry onward the reluctant, were not 
anywhere to be found. All that this generation possessed in the 
way of creative political capacity had been wholly exhausted in the 
colossal struggle for the liberation of the fatherland. The hopes 
of the patriots were indeed high-pitched, and Arndt said that 
they were expecting new glories such as had not been seen for 
centuries. The constitutional ideas of the Revolution had every- 
where, though quietly, struck roots upon German soil ; " con- 
stitution " and " representative system " were now regarded as 
synonymous terms. At the same time, amongst men of very 
different degrees of culture, the confident prophecy became audible 
that, just as the ecclesiastical reformation had in the sixteenth 
century spread from Germany throughout the world, so now would 
it be with the political reformation in the nineteenth century. 
Romantic memories from Germany's earliest history became asso- 
ciated with these modern ideas ; it seemed as if the never-to-be- 
forgotten disgrace of the days of Ratisbon had been wiped out, 
as if with the re-establishment of emperor and empire, the power 
of the Othos would return to the Germans. Never has a highly- 
gifted and highly-cultured generation been a prey to such 
childishly obscure poHtical ideas ; everything which this epoch 
thought about the state, came from the emotions, from an 
inward and extravagant yearning which sought for its ideals as 
individual preferences might dictate, now in the past and now 
in the future. Unrestrainedly the primevally old was welded 
together with the lire- new. Whilst the Rheinische Merkur recom- 
mended Scharnhorst's military system and the abolition of all 
internal customs-dues in Germany, the paper at the same time 
disinterred Dante's De Monarchia from the dust, cmd expected 
to heal the afflictions of the new emperorless time with the ideas 
of the thirteenth century. For the majority of these publicists 
it was still an unknown idea that the politician should stick to his 
point and consistently advocate his views; innocently and diffi- 
dently everyone expressed his opinions and plans in newsp>apers 
and pamphlets, ready to adopt simultaneously the most opposing 
outlooks. Arndt declared apropos : " Such is the nature of our 
time that an intelligent man may endeavour to disseminate ideas 

I simply from the love of dissemination, and because he has grasped 
the necessity for shaking up the Germanic spirits, for in many 
respects we are still far too inert." But how rightly had Fichte 
judged his contemporaries when he said that the German could 

History of Germany 

never desire one thing alone, but must always simultaneously 
desire its opposite ! 

What a morbid excess of self-confidence was displayed, 
too, amid this unsteadiness of public opinion ! The news- 
papers gave unceasing assurances that, apart from matters of 
detail, the entire nation was at one, well aware what would be 
advantageous to it and what it was justified in demanding ; they 
spoke with unending contempt of the game of hazard played by 
the politicians and of the sham fights of diplomatists. This 
generation could with good reason pride itself upon a heroic 
struggle fought to a successful issue, and now that the constitu- 
tional upbuilding of the new Germany lagged so lamentably far 
behind the expectations of the War of Liberation, there arose in 
the nation an error weighty with consequences, which for two 
generations was a curse in German life. This was the illusion 
that the disintegration of the fatherland was the fault of the courts 
alone, and that it was not also the fault of conflicting aims 
and defective will, of the vacillation of the nation between 
patriotic aspirations and particularist traditions. The language 
of publicist literature displayed a peculiar mixture of unction 
and bitterness. Nowhere was this more plainly manifest than 
in the columns of the Rheinische Merkur, whose circulation, as 
early as the summer of 1814, was prohibited in the Rhenish Con- 
federate states of the south. Let the princes seriously reflect, 
said Gorres threateningly, how their peoples are likely to receive 
them if they return home bringing with them a disintegrated 
fatherland, for then we shall have no choice open between 
humiliation and revolt ! The image of the German constitu- 
tion present to the minds of the majority of the patriots, corres- 
ponded in no small degree to that proposal for the armorial 
bearings of the future empire which was pubUshed by the Rheinische 
Merkur : " The double eagle tenderly embracing the black 
eagle, and the Bavarian lion standing peacefully beside them 
both ! " Unquestionably it was not the outcome of mere 
despondency when Goethe said : " The slumber has been 
too profound ; this one shaking-up will not suffice." 

So far as it is possible to recognise a clearly conceivable 
political idea in this medley of good proposals and fantastical 
desires, the plan for the re-establishment of the Hapsburg 
emperordom outside the old Prussian provinces continued to receive 
most support. What was known in the petty states about the 
tragical role which the House of Austria had continued to play 

The Congress of Vienna 

even in the very latest war ? Many a fine fellow could see no 
important difference between Schwarzenberg and Gneisenau, 
between Gyulay and Biilow. The Rheinische Merkur admired 
the genuine and touching character of Emperor Francis. In 
him there was no guile, no touch of the tyrant. Even though 
Metternich was sometimes blamed for his weakly good-nature, 
there was no doubt about his German sentiments. What 
seemed more natural than a return to the consecrated forms of a 
history dating back for a thousand years : only an emperor could 
awaken the German sleeping beauty. The ancient imperial dream 
found new expression in prose and in verse : 

" Loudly now the yearning's spoken : 
' Emperor, will ye choose us never ? 
Home comes no knight proudly bringing 
Germany, the deserted bride ? ' " 

The question whether the hopeless conjunction of German 
and foreign interests was to recommence was evaded with a 
few fervent patriotic exhortations. Gorres bluntly declared : 
" German princes upon foreign thrones must never entangle their 
German territory in foreign affairs ! " Still more movingly did 
Riickert recall the thought of the Hapsburg eagle : 

"Not the foreign Seville Orange 
Is it which to thee belongs_: 
Thine the Apple imperial 
On German Oaks flourishing 1 
Wilt not dwell on our oaks 
Beside the Apple, Staff, and Crown ? " 

Oken, the naturalist, a warm-hearted patriot, inspired by a 
vigorous but restricted radicalism, declared in the Jena Nemesis 
that, with the re-establishment of the imperial crown, all the other 
demands of the nation would be spontaneously fulfilled, and that 
thereby Germany would reacquire the first rank in Europe. The 
talented philologian, F. G. Welcker, writing two years later in 
the Kieler Blatter, referred all the distresses of the fatherland to 
the fact that " no emperor could be found for fallen Germany." 
^Thus vividly was the thought of the emperordom cherished, but 
t^ho could endow that thought with any practical form ? The 
^patriots troubled themselves Uttle about the hard fact of 
[German dualism. If the Lorrainers, as the Rheinische Merkur 


History of Germany 

suggested, were to conclude a mutual agreement of succession 
with the HohenzoUerns, genuine unity would be spontaneously 
established for an indefinite period. Till then, indeed, Prussia 
must continue to exist in a state of dependency beside and 
beneath the Austrian imperial crown. An essay in the Merkur 
wished to establish Emperor Francis at the head of a bipartite 
Reichstag, of which Prussia was to lead the North German and 
Protestant electoral body, and Austria the Rhenish and Catholic. 
In this duplex empire, the Prussian state was to supply the cre- 
ative and driving energy ; for since Frederick's state had regained 
its ancient powers, elsewhere in the empire, as in the eighteenth 
century, the comfortable view had been cherished, that Prussia 
was predestined by a kindly fate serviceably to relieve the 
other Germans from the burden and labour of high policy. To 
the Austrians, Gorres assigned the more agreeable task of con- 
stituting " the inner warming and nourishing element " in the 
German empire, since this corresponded to the Austrian " tribal 
character." Similar views were advocated by Schmidt, the well- 
meaning privy-councillor of Hildburghausen, in his book The 
Renascence of Germany. He regarded the Prussian crown as the 
vicegerent of the empire of the north, and at the same time as a 
hortatory counsellor and tribune of the people vis-a-vis the 
Austrian hereditary emperor. 

Even what Amdt wrote, upon Stein's instigation, "concern- 
ing the future representative constitution," shows that the excellent 
man had as yet given no serious consideration to the leading 
notions of constitutional law. He demanded an emperor, and a 
Reichstag constituted from the deputies of the provinces, without 
giving a thought to the rights of the princes ; he demanded the 
restoration of the provincial diets, though he did not do this 
quite so unconditionally as the romanticist of Coblenz, who pro- 
claimed the trinity of the estates of teaching, arms, and nourish- 
ment. Arndt's ideas were couched in more modem terminology. 
The ministers were to be responsible to these ancient feudal 
corporations. The few political propositions found in the 
writing are isolated, like shells upon the sea-shore, in the thick 
sand of moral, historical, and ethnographical considerations. The 
entire culture of the period still remained utterly unpolitical. 
Among all the German publicists of the day, methodical political 
thought and the art of logical exposition were possessed by two 
only : Nicbuhr, who never expressed any opinion upon the Ger- 
man constitutional question ; and Gcntz, the writing-implement 


The Congress of Vienna 

of the Hofburg. How remote even from the best Germans of 
those days was the calm and sustained national pride of a great 
people. On the one hand there was a fanatical hatred of the 
French, a hatred which even after the war Arndt glorified as the 
sacred fantasy, the religion of our people ; on the other hand there 
was an equally bhnd admiration for England, the only free country, 
which alone among all the contemporary nations gHttered with 
many distinguished names — and this in the mouth of the fellow- 
countrymen of Goethe, Stein, Blucher, and Gneisenau. When 
the Guelph plans were disclosed at the congress, it is true that 
the faithful Arndt's eyes were opened, and in one of his finest 
writings, the Outlook from the Present into the Future, he utters 
cordial truths about English pettiness and Hanoverian arrogance. 

Everywhere, even in the writings of the most well-informed 
publicists, it was preached as an irrefutable truth that particu- 
larism was the glory of Germany, the vigorous culture-ground of 
our freedom and of our civilisation ; the old, unhappy confusion 
between liberty and polyarchy recurred in the most manifold 
forms. But since it was desired to mix the water of particularism 
with the fire of national power, the door was of)ened for all kinds 
of political jugglery. The manifest reality of the German indi- 
vidual states enforced a sober restraint upon the publicists ; 
with regard to the rights of the diets, there already existed a cer- 
tain harmony of views ; everyone demanded the right of peti- 
tion and of the presentation of grievances, and also the right of 
granting supply ; most, too, demanded participation in legisla- 
tion. On the other hand, the measureless greatness of the German 
united state offered a convenient field of experiment for dilet- 
tantist crotchets and sportive arbitrariness ; there was no folly 
which appeared too absurd for the great fatherland. Thus, Pro- 
fessor Lips of Erlangen recommended an emperorship which should 
pass in rotation every five years from one German prince to 
another. A Hanoverian statesman sent to the congress the draft 
for a German federal constitution whose seventh article attained 
to the following brilliant proposition : " The great question upon 
which everything else depends is this — what is to happen in the 
future in Germany, and what constitution is to be provided ? Hie 
nodus Gordius." 

Side by side with the involved fantasies of the patriots, there 

I became manifest once more the greedy desires of particularism. 
[The talented and laboriously learned Carl Salomo Zacharia, a 
worthy representative of that subservient old professordom which 

History of Germany 

was now becoming rarer, had when summoned to Heidelberg 
immediately undergone transformation from a servile electoral Saxon 
to a servile Badenese, and now, altogether in the spirit of the 
Rhenish Confederate sentiment of Carlsruhe, wrote : A Proposal 
for the Fundamental Treaty of the German Federation of States. 
We no longer find a word here of the thousand years' history of 
the German nation ; the sovereign princes of Germany can com- 
bine solely in order to secure internal peace and to provide for 
defence against the foreigner ; in all other affairs there prevails the 
liberum veto, in such a way that the resolves of the Federation are 
binding only upon those who assent to them. This chaos is to be 
presided over by a Bundestag in Vienna, led by Austria as pro- 
tector, and by Prussia as arch-chancellor. Still more plainly 
did Sartorius, Miinster's assistant, express himself in a pamphlet 
recommending a separate federation of all the middle-sized and 
small states. The limit was attained by a pamphlet secretly 
circulated throughout the diplomatic world, entitled, To the Vienna 
Congress, probably composed with the aid of La Besnardiere. 
Here the restoration of the Confederation of the Rhine for the 
south and for the west, was openly advocated ; the north could 
hold fast to Prussia. But even in a well-meaning patriotic book. 
Ideas Concerning the Formation of a Free German Federation of 
States, we find a proposal for the constitution of a federation of the 
petty states, under the leadership of Bavaria. This was probably 
written by the Leipzig bookseller, Baumgartner, the consul-general 
of the king of Prussia. The incredible confusion of ideas that 
was to characterise the two succeeding decades was already mani- 
fested in the significant fact that, immediately after the War 
of Liberation, a brave and intelligent German could, in all inno- 
cence, treat the Prussian state as a semi-foreign power ! 

In this paper war, the Old Prussian provinces took no part. 
After the convulsive tension of the unequal struggle, nature 
demanded her rights. Moreover, many far-seeing persons recog- 
nised that the dream of Prussian emperordom, which had so often 
been discussed in the circles of the volunteers, remained for the 
present quite out of the question. Only in the Deutsche Blatter 
of the Leipzig bookseller F. A. Brockhaus, was the opinion voiced, 
that the claims of Prussia were to a certain extent justified. An 
article entitled Tantce molis erit Gcrmanam condere gentem put 
forward, with a sobriety at that time unexampled, the following 
considerations. The right moment has not yet arrived for the 
unified state which must remain our aim ; from a renewal of 


The Congress of Vienna 


the old, so-called free, federative constitution, nothing can be 
expected except the return of those lamentable times when Ger- 
many was " the general tavern, recruiting ground, and brothel " 
of the rest of Europe. At the moment, the only task before 
Germany must be to ensure the development of internal freedom, 
and from this point of view there was but one state in which 
hope could be placed, namely, Prussia. But the writer hardly 
ventured to make it plain, even between the lines, that he 
expected Prussia one day to effect the completion of the national 

Young Thorn, aide-de-camp to Charles Augustus, set to work 
much more valiantly upon the question of the future of Ger- 
many. This man was subsequently to play a part in the history 
of the customs-union, as head of the finances of Weimar. He had 
fought with Liitzow's yagers, and even during the congress he had 
faithfully maintained the proud, patriotic sentiments of the war- 
time. When now he contemplated the utter failure of the 
Viennese negotiations, he wrote a brief and incisive essay. What has 
the Future in Store for Us?" ^ He showed that as yet nothing more 
could be effected than a loose alliance without a head ; the old 
empire was for ever dead, and henceforward all the hopes of the 
nation must repose upon the internal development of Prussia. 
If this state should gain internal energy, it would become strong 
enough at some future date to drive out of the country the non- 
German powers of Austria and England, to destroy the middle- 
sized states, structures manufactured by Napoleon, and to unite 
the entire nation under its own crown. Such were the ideas of 
a German soldier in May, 1815. To his contemporaries they 
remained unknown, as did Fichte's writing of the summer of 1813 ; 
it is possible that Charles Augustus may have glanced at the essay 
of his young aide-de-camp, and may have seen there some echo 
of his own youthful dreams of a league of princes. But how 
sinister appears the cumbrous slowness of national development 
when contrasted with the rapid thought-flow of the short-lived 
individual human being ! A hundred and fifty years earlier, 
Puffendorf had prophesied the constitution of the Germanic 
Federation ; now at length had the seer's words become true. 
Yet how many more decades, full of sorrow, shame, and toil, were 
still to pass before the fulfilment of the prophecy of this new and 
nameless prophet, the only one among all his contemporaries to 

1 First printed in Weimar in 1867, under the title, Aus den Papier en eincr 



History of Germany 

foresee the detachment from Austria and the unification of 
Germany under the Prussian crown ! 

So confused a pubUc opinion could not give the cabinets any 
direction towards definite goals ; the one thing it could effect 
was that a German federal constitution should come into existence. 
Even in Teplitz it had been the intention of the Austrian states- 
men to unite the German sovereigns, like the Italian, with the 
Hofburg, simply for the purpose of a defensive alliance. During 
the war, however, Mettemich had come to the conclusion that, 
in view of the tense expectations of the German nation, it would 
be necessary to agree to a more firmly established form of federal 
constitution. For this reason, out of dread of the revolution, 
in Chaumont he 5Hielded to Hardenberg's persuasion, and approved 
the concession of " a federative bond " for the German states. 
Herein also was manifested the strengthening of the new Germany, 
that none of the foreign powers in Vienna put forward a claim 
to intervene directly in the German constitutional negotiations. 
To this work, which seemed to him the most sacred of earthly 
opportunities. Stein applied all the energy of his heroic will. It 
was with horror that the petty princes and ministers saw this 
untamable man on one occasion, his great eyes sparkling and his 
nose pale with wrath, shaking his fist in the face of the Bavarian 
crown prince. But what could passion, what could tenacity, 
effect in the prosecution of a task which had already been rendered 
altogether insoluble by the dualism of the great powers, by the 
ill-will of the Rhenish Confederate courts, and, above all, by the 
general obscurity of the poUtical vision of the time — an obscurity 
shared by Stein himself ? 

As soon as the imperial knight had become convinced that 
Austria obstinately rejected the assumption of the imperial 
dignity, he relinquished his Teplitz plans, and while still in Chau- 
mont elaborated, on March lo, 1814, a new proposal for a 
federation which entrusted the executive authority to the four 
greatest German states. His aim was now principally to limit 
" the sultanism " of the petty despots ; for this reason, funda- 
mental rights, the " rights of Germanism " were guaranteed to 
every German by the electoral authority, and there was to be estab- 
lished a mixed Bundestag composed of delegates from the princes 
and from the Landtags. Next summer this proposal was redrafted, 
and in July was thoroughly discussed in Frankfort at a meeting 
between Stein, the chancellor, and Count Solms-Laubach. 
Reluctantly did the baron now agree to exclude the delegates of 


The Congress of Vienna 


the Landtag from the Bundestag, for he bitterly contended that if 
the Bundestag was to consist of princes alone, the protection 
of representative institutions would be entrusted precisely to 
those hands whose interest it was to overthrow them ! But 
the impossibility of bringing a German parliament into existence 
in face of the opposition of Austria and the Rhenish Confederate 
courts, was plainly manifest ; and no less obvious was it that an 
unduly numerous Confederate assembly without a head, would be 
hopelessly cumbrous ; moreover in view of the power which the 
sovereign princes possessed, it would in fact be unseemly to have 
their representatives swamped by a majority of popular repre- 
sentatives. The obvious idea of constituting a house of states for 
the princes and a popular assembly for the representatives of the 
people, had as yet occurred to no one ; no serious attention had 
hitherto been paid in Germany to the constitution of the United 
States of North America. 

The proposal thus metamorphosed was on September 2nd 
at the instigation of Hardenberg, laid by Count Solms before the 
Austrian minister. How strangely had these well-meaning North 
German patriots turned about and about, in order to discover 
how to square the circle, and how to bring Austria, which was 
hardly half -German, into the same fold with the true Germany. 
They recognised justly that Austria could not dispose of any effec- 
tive federal authority ; but since they started from the idea of 
the complete equality of Austria and Prussia, as if it had been 
an inviolable article of religious faith, not only did they demand 
for the House of Lorraine the restoration of that privileged and 
pecuHar position which for centuries the hereditary dominions 
of the emperor had assumed in the ancient empire, but they also 
proposed that Austria should enter the federation in the narrower 
sense with no more than the land to the west of the Inn, and 
Prussia with no more than the provinces leftward of the Elbe, 
but that both powers should conclude a perpetual aUiance with 
Germany for the whole of their respective domains. Here it was 
taken as a matter of course that Austria would resume possession 
of her provinces on the Upper Rhine. It was proposed further 
to invite Switzerland and the Netherlands to join the perpetual 
alliance. How tragical was the irony of destiny ! Immediately 
after the Markers, Pomeranians, Prussians, and Silesians had given 
the signal to the other Germans for the War of Liberation, our 
leading statesmen seriously proposed to exclude from the Ger- 
manic Federation these lands which formed the kernel of the 


History of Germany 

hew Germany. The imperial knight's leading idea was the 
honourable intention to preserve for the people of the Rhenish 
Confederate states the rights of their provincial diets, and to 
furnish for them some security against " the sultanism " of their 
princes ; but Stein knew that the introduction of a constitution 
into the Old Prussian provinces was far from simple, and that in 
Austria it was almost impossible, and he therefore grasped at this 
desperate proposal regarding the frontiers of the Inn and the Elbe^ 
The Prussian statesman wished to reintroduce into this Ger- 
many westward of the Elbe and the Bohemian forest the circle- 
constitution of the old empire, so that the useless contingents of the 
smallest states might be welded together to constitute functionally 
capable masses. Consequently seven circles were to come into 
existence, and if possible the Netherlands also as an eighth (Bur- 
gundian) circle. Austria and Prussia in two circles each, Bavaria, 
Hanover, and Wiirtemberg in one circle each, were to assume the 
office of circle-governor, to undertake military leadership, and 
to exercise supervision for the carrying out of federal legislation ; 
the former electors of Baden and Hesse were each to receive in 
one of the circles the position of deputy circle-governor. Here, 
however, intruded the distressing problem whether it was per- 
missible to grant enhanced power to the restless ambition of the 
courts of Munich and Stuttgart. All the petty neighbours trembled 
before the outrageous land-hunger of King Frederick ; the govern- 
ment of Hechingen implored the Prussian statesmen in moving 
terms* to take steps to preserve the little country from complete 
enclosure in the domain of Wiirtemberg, and to secure for it the 
retention of free access to the lake of Constance through Badenese 
territory. Consequently Stein proposed to allot to the Bavarian 
and Swabian circle the domains of Bavaria and Wiirtemberg 
exclusively; the petty states as a whole were to be subjected to the 
leadership of the three so-called German great powers, Austria, 
Prussia, and England-Hanover. These seven ancient electors 
were to constitute, in conjunction, a council of circle-governors 
which was to exercise executive authority, to control foreign 
policy, and to deal with military affairs ; no state in the federa- 
tion was to treat with foreign countries independently. The council 
of electoral princes of the old empire, which had persisted even 
under the Rhenish Confederate constitution as the council of the 

* This motive Is manifest from the letters and memorials of Count Solms 
recently published by H. Baumgartcn (Im neuen Reich, 1879, p. 549). 

* Repeated petitions from the prince of IIohcnzollcrn-Hechingcn to the chan- 


The Congress of Vienna 

kings, was thus to be reconstituted with increased powers. Stein, 
like all the Prussian statesmen, wished to return as far as possible 
to the legal foundation which had been created by the princes' 
revolution of 1803. The directorate of the council of circle- 
governors was to be vested in Austria and Prussia in common ; 
in this manner Austria, as of old, would lead as president ; but 
Prussia was to exercise the real directorate, to control the con- 
duct of business, just as at one time Electoral Mainz had been 
" mouth and pen " of the Reichstag of Ratisbon. The legislative 
authority was to be held, in common with the circle-governors, by a 
council of the princes and of the estates, which was to include all 
the less powerful princes, the free towns, and the mediatised. 
Every estate possessing a domain of more than 50,000 inhabitants 
received a vote indifferently whether it was still regarded as a 
sovereign power or not ; all the others, taken together, were to have 
six curiate votes. 

In this way the imperial knight proposed to do justice to the 
unhappy victims of the coup d'etat of 1806, without, however, 
restoring their territorial sovereignty. He repeatedly called the 
attention of his Prussian friends to the fact that they could 
not treat on equal terms all the mediatised, who differed so greatly 
in their respective importance.^ There was Hohenlohe with 
106,000 souls, Fiirstenberg with 83,000 souls, and so on, until the 
list was closed by Aspremont which had ruled a populace of one 
hundred and ninety-five souls. The best part of the proposal was 
constituted by the sections upon the rights of the nation. In 
every federal state there should exist provincial diets with the 
right of granting supply, of representation, and of co-opera- 
tion in legislation. For every German, the security of property 
must be guaranteed, the same with the freedom of the press, 
the right to petition for redress of grievances, the right to 
emigrate to other German states, and to secure an education at 
any German educational institution. 

On September 13th, in Baden near Vienna, Hardenberg 
discussed this plan with Mettemich, and it immediately became 
evident that Austria had no desire for so thoroughgoing a pro- 
posal. As Gentz declared to Karadja, the Hofburg was incUned 
to lay down in Vienna no more than the general principles of the 
1^ federal constitution, and to leave everything else to the Frank- 
^B fort Bundestag. They would not expect the sovereigns to do 
B more than what was absolutely essential Then Mettemich 

^K ^ Stein to Humboldt, December 29, 1814. 


History of Germany 

demanded that Austria and Prussia should join the federation 
with all their original " German lands " ; but Austria would on no 
account resume responsibility for guarding the Upper Rhine. 
Hardenberg gave way all the more readily since according to the 
Austrian proposal the legal basis of 1803 was to be re-established. 
The Austrian diplomats delighted to proclaim their confidence that 
henceforward in all warlike needs, with the possible exception 
of ItaUan affairs, the imperial state could rely upon German 
compulsory military service ; there existed somewhere in Galicia 
two ancient Silesian fiefs, the so-called duchies of Zator and Ausch- 
witz, in consequence of which the Germanic Federation would 
be pledged for the defence of Austrian Poland ! In that confusio 
divinitus ordinata known as the Holy Roman Empire, no one had been 
able to determine which provinces of the two great powers were 
to be regarded as German territories, and even now the problem 
could not be accurately solved. It was not until four years later 
that the matter was settled — at least on paper. The only certain 
thing was that with the entrance into the Federation of the main 
mass of Cisleithania, any serious federal constitution became 
impossible, and this was precisely what Metternich desired. 

Finally, the Austrian minister made urgent representations 
to his Prussian friend regarding the cumbrous nature of the two- 
headed directorate. How much simpler would it be if Austria, 
which could not be expected to renounce all her ancient imperial 
rights, should take over the sole presidency ; all German affairs 
would of course be harmoniously arranged in advance between 
the two leading great powers ; the presidency was to be 
" understood as a mere formal conduct of business." Hardenberg 
gave way ; he had from the first regarded Stein's plan as no more 
than an experiment, and not as a fixed programme. Just as 
blindly as at the outset of his diplomatic career he had beheved 
in the friendship of France, so now did he trust in Austria ; he 
would no longer admit the possibiHty of a contest between the 
two powers, and he failed to recognise what an advantage the right 
of presidency would give should such a contest arise. ^ Since 

* It has often been contended that Metternich gave a verbal promise that in 
the future the presidency should be divided. Not only, however, has no proof ever 
been brought forward in support of this remarkable view, but documents are forth- 
coming which compel the acceptance of tlic opposite conclusion. In the year 
1816, immediately before the opening of the Bundestag, the federal deputy von 
H&nlcin, upon his own initiative, made a belated attempt to secure for Prussia 
a share in the presidency. There occurred a long exchange of letters between him 
and Hardenberg, and in this confidential correspondence, in which all the reasons 
in support of H&nlein's demands are exposed in detail, there is no mention of any 
Austrian assent. 


The Congress of Vienna 

Miinster also showed a decisive opposition to the two-headed 
directorate, the Prussian proposal was weakened and abbreviated 
in accordance with Austria's wishes, until the forty-one articles 
had shrunk to twelve. These twelve articles were, on October 
14th, laid by the two leading states before the Committee of Five 
which, in accordance with the determination of the European 
powers, was to deUberate about the German constitution. 
Consequently the fate of the Germanic Federation was placed 
entirely in the hands of Austria, Prussia, England-Hanover, 
Bavaria, and Wiirtemberg ; for the remaining states nothing 
but a supplementary assent was reserved. 

Manifestly this attempt to form a German pentarchy was 
merely an arbitrary resource of embarrassment ; for, as far as 
historical legal rights were concerned, and in accordance with 
the ancient prerogative of the council of electors, the electoral 
houses of Baden and Hesse ought not to have been excluded. 
In order to gloss over the arbitrary character of this action, 
Metternich appealed to that clause of the treaties of accession by 
which the petty states, from Baden downwards, were pledged 
to acquiesce in the requirements of the future federal constitu- 
tion ; but by this assent the right of joint deUberation was by 
no means excluded. The true motive for the arbitrary procedure 
of the two great powers was mere diplomatic convenience ; they 
regarded it as impossible to attain to any result in a negotiation 
with all the German states. The event showed, however, that, 
in the extraordinary confusion of German politics, the apparently 
easy is often difficult, and the improbable is possible. The 
federal constitution did not come into existence until the variegated 
masses of all the petty states were summoned to the council. On 
the other hand, the negotiations of the Committee of Five, which 
were protracted until November i6th in thirteen stormy sittings, 
remained utterly without issue, for among the selected five states 
were the two most virulent enemies of German unity, Bavaria 
and Wiirtemberg. 

Both of them had retained in security their complete 
sovereignty, Bavaria unconditionally, Wiirtemberg with an 
insignificant reservation. Encouraged by the unreasonable 
indulgence displayed towards them by the great powers, they 
immediately disclosed, as Stein angrily put it, their system " of 
isolation against the league, of ambition against the petty states, 
and of despotism against their own territories." As the 
Prussian statesmen immediately perceived, their aim was to defer 

History of Germany 

the settlement of the German constitutional question until their 
own territorial demands had been settled to their satisfaction.^ 
With his accustomed brutal roughness, Wrede immediately 
declared that Bavaria as a European power had no " personal 
interest " in the Germanic Federation, for she could by adhesion 
to France gain far greater advantages, and it was only from a 
friendly compliance, and against the general wish, that she would 
join the union of the German sovereigns. Even after the 
congress, Montgelas declared to the Prussian envoy, von Kiister, 
his complete indifference towards the Germanic Federation. 
" Why should not the German states live together Uke the 
ItaUan, in complete independence, bound together only by 
neighbourly feelings and mutual free accommodation ? " * 

Nothing was further from the ideas of the Prussian statesmen 
than a radically consolidating policy. Whilst in the eyes of Stein 
the unified state always remained the ideal, Hardenberg and 
Humboldt accepted with full conviction the general belief in the 
civiUsing influence of particularism. Knesebeck, in his doctrinaire 
way, repeatedly uttered the thought that only through the 
variegated character of its political conditions did Germany 
become competent to constitute the pivot of Europe ; he desired 
that " this pivot should be characterised as the palladium for 
free association and for preservation of the balance of power, by 
exhibiting both these qualities within its own system."' Yet 
however modest the desires of the Prussians, their anger was 
aroused by the frivolous scorn for Germany displayed by Wrede. 
The Bavarian roundly declared that his king was unwilling " to 
renounce the practice of any governmental right dependent upon 
sovereignty " ; and least of all to renounce the privilege of forming 
alliances with foreign countries. In this right, the Bavarian 
national pride found satisfaction. Were it to be renounced, 
Bavaria " would lose prestige and dignity among foreign nations." 
For the five circle-governors he demanded complete equality, 
and consequently there was to be an annually changing direc- 
torate. For this reason also he wished to admit to the league 
as few Austrian and Prussian provinces as possible. In any case, 
neither of the two great powers must contribute more troops to 
the federal army than did Bavaria. 

* Thus writes Humboldt in the Systematic Description to wliicli reference 
ha.H already been made. 

' KUstcr'B Report, Munich, August 28, 1815. 
' KncMbeck's Memorial, January 7, 18 14. 


The Congress of Vienna 

In this way was for the first time disclosed the intention 
of the middle-sized states to weaken the German army because 
of their jealousy of the great powers — a poHcy of envy which 
was unparalleled even in the history of Poland, and which for 
years to come was to make itself felt in the ludicrous military 
constitution of the Germanic Federation. Even more audaciously 
than the Bavarians, did the Wiirtemburger plenipotentiaries 
express themselves ; by their provocative speeches they stirred 
up once more all the horrible dregs of the old Rhenish Con- 
federate sentiment. They would not hear a word of the funda- 
mental rights of the nation if for no other reason than that the 
court of Stuttgart did not recognise the existence of a German 
nation. By a shameless falsification of history, which was 
already beginning to disseminate its poison in the schools of the 
Rhenish Confederate states, everything was roundly denied which 
had been common to the Germans for centuries, and out of the 
whole history of our people nothing was regarded as valid beyond the 
eight years of Napoleonic anarchy. "The aim of the Federation," 
declared von Linden dryly, " is antagonistic to the idea of 
building, as one may say, a nation out of its different popula- 
tions, as, for example, those of Prussia and of Wiirtemberg ! " 
On the other hand, the court of Stuttgart displayed an extremely 
suspicious zeal on behalf of mihtary organisation. It desired 
that only circle-governors should become members of the federa- 
tion, that all the other princes should be excluded as merely circle- 
estates subordinate to the five powers, and suggested as eminently 
desirable the enlargement of the south-western German circle, so 
that King Frederick might secure the desired new territory by 
a devious route, and might brandish the sword of the circle- 
governor over four millions of mediate or immediate subjects. 

The Prussian plenipotentiaries led the struggle against this 

I unworthy intrigue. Even Mettemich was concerned to see 
how the seed disseminated at Ried and Fulda had sprung up all 
too luxuriantly ; nor could he restrain himself from occasionedly 
contradicting his South German proteges, especially when they 
were incUned to infringe the rights of his co-estates, the media- 
tised. Finally, Miinster greedily seized the opportunity of dis- 
playing before all the world the hght of the celebrated Guelph 
freedom. The prince regent, in an arrogant circular to the 
European courts, announced the foundation of the kingdom oi 

1 Hanover, and maintained the problematical opinion, " by its union 
with Great Britain, the House of Guelph has been able to give 

History of Germany 

much valuable protection and support to the German fatherland." 
In a Uke boastful tone, Miinster wrote a note attacking the 
doctrines of Wiirtemberg sultanism. He showed that the rights 
of the provincial diets had by no means been abrogated by the 
sovereignty of the petty crowns ; and by the uncritical public 
opinion of the time he was highly esteemed on account of his 
noble liberal sentiments, whereas he had in reality merely broken 
a lance on behalf of the feudal characteristics of the Hanoverian 
nobles' regime. Before long, the state of affairs in the Committee 
of Five seemed so hopeless that Stein, profoundly discontented, 
appealed to the czar for help. Alexander expressed his cordial 
approval of the proposals of the German great powers, and referred 
the German states to the promises contained in the proclamation 
of Kalisz. The despot of Stuttgart, however, could no longer 
remain to look on at the criminal attack upon the absolute 
sovereignty of his Rhenish Confederate crown. He was heard to 
say : " People will soon be ashamed to declare themselves Wiir- 
tembergers." On November i6th Wiirtemberg announced her 
withdrawal from the Council of Five, and before the mocking 
eyes of Europe the German pentarchy broke up in consequence 
of its own internal disunion. 

Meanwhile the minor states had also taken action, justly 
embittered by the high-handed proceedings of the Five. On the 
day of Wiirtemberg's withdrawal, Baden, which had vainly 
demanded admission to the Council of Five, entered a formal 
protest, reserving for the grand-duke all the rights of unrestricted 
sovereignty. Von Hacke, the Badenese minister, profoundly 
Bonapartist in sentiment, did not disdain to make use of the ill- 
natured phrase, that his grand-duke had not thrown off foreign 
chains in order to wear those forged at home. Gagem gathered 
round himself the representatives of most of the petty states, from 
Electoral Hesse downwards, and laid before them the necessity 
" of making the great ones recognise that we are here, and that 
we understand our craft," Here there was brought together an 
extremely mixed society : honourable and intelligent patriots, 
such as Smidt, and Plessen, the Mecklenburger ; impenitent par- 
ticulahsts, like Marschall of Nassau ; and, finally, such visionaries 
as Gagem himself, who dreaded, not the Rhenish Confederate 
sentiments of Bavaria and Wiirtemberg, but " the masked 
duumvirate " of Austria and Prussia. Many of the participators 
were influenced only by jealousy of the mediatised ; they would 
not allow themselves to be outbid by these discrowned persons, 


The Congress of Vienna 

who, as consistent legitimists, were enthusiasts for all the treasures 
from the lumber-room of the Holy Empire, and who besieged 
Emperor Francis with petitions to reassume the Carlovingian 
crown. There was only one thing in which the petty states were 
unanimous, their desire to break the dominion of the Five. 

On this occasion, however, as so often in the history of the 
empire, the petty courts showed somewhat more patriotic senti- 
ment than the middle-sized states ; several among them, con- 
scious of their own weakness, seriously desired a strong imperial 
authority which could protect them against the ambition of their 
greater neighbours. Consequently Stein determined to utilise 
this opposition of the petty princes for his own patriotic ends ; 
he adroitly pushed the busy Gagem on one side, and on 
November i6th, the same day on which Wiirtemberg withdrew, 
he induced the union of the nine-and-twenty minor princes and 
towns to transmit a collective note to the two leading powers. 
In this document, Austria and Prussia were asked to lay before 
all the German states a new constitutional plan " upon the basis 
of equal rights and of a complete representation of all members 
of the federation " ; but the federation must be headed by an 
emperor " as the protector of German freedom." However vague 
and obscure this imperial plan appeared, and however certain it 
was that several of the signatories utilised the idea of an emperor 
simply as a frivolous excuse for getting rid of the dominion of the 
Five, it is equally certain that the declaration of the petty states 
contained certain honourably designed concessions. In especial, 
they offered to concede to the Landtags a certain minimum of con- 
stitutional rights to be determined by the federation. 

The German pentarchy, thus simultaneously attacked from 
within and from without, fell to pieces. For some months there- 
after there no longer existed a German constitutional committee. 
The ground was free for arbitrary plans of all kinds ; Gagem 
and Plessen were already speaking of a federation of the middle- 
sized and petty states, without Austria and Prussia, but with 
Denmark and the inevitable Netherlands. Miinster repUed to 
the minor states in the name of the great powers, benevolently 
recognised their patriotic aims, and definitely declared that, in 
view of Austria's refusal, the reconstitution of the emperordora 

I was altogether impossible. The Rhenish Confederate senti- 
ment, however, which had been so shamelessly expressed in the 
notes of Wiirtemberg and Baden, was one which the great powers 
were unwilling to leave unreproved. Austria and England- 

History of Germany 

Hanover still hoped from moment to moment to detach the 
Prussian court from Russia, and consequently in the German 
negotiations displayed towards the views of Prussia an accom- 
modating spirit which did not indeed pledge them to anything 
serious. Miinster drafted for Prussia and Austria an identical 
note which was to be handed to the court of Baden. In language 
of unexampled severity, he displayed to the government of 
Carlsruhe the register of its sins, enumerated all the acts of 
oppression performed by that government against its own 
people, " measures which must be classed with the most arbitrary 
of those characteristic of the French revolutionary system." 
Next the important principle was expounded that it was by no 
means left to the German states to decide whether they would 
or would not join the federation. The great powers did not 
appeal to the thousand years' existence of the German empire, 
which had never been legally abolished ; they held fast to that 
which was immediately under their hands, to the treaties of 
accession of the previous year. All those who had joined the 
great aUiance were bound by the proclamation of Kalisz, which 
conceded to the German people the re-establishment of its con- 
stitution " with the necessary modifications." " The guarantee for 
the sovereignty of Baden which the aUied powers have jointly given 
cannot be interpreted as an agreement to unconditional privileges 
which have never been conceded to your royal highness, and 
which would be in direct conflict with the intentions made known 
to the German nation by the alHed powers as to the aims of the 
war, to whose fortunate conclusion their love for the fatherland 
and their courage, based upon this assurance, have so greatly con- 
tributed."^ At the last moment Metternich hesitated, for such 
a tone seemed to him altogether too outspoken. He regarded it 
as sufficient to communicate to the Badenese minister, by word 
of mouth, the opinion of the great powers. But to the court of 
Wiirtemberg, on November 24th, a common answer was handed 
which, though couched in somewhat milder terms, corresponded to 
Miinster's draft, and which declared with great definiteness that 
all the German states were pledged to join the federation. It 
was as if Stein himself had guided the pen of the great powers ; 
the only trouble was that neither Metternich nor Miinster had 
any serious intention of backing up the fine words with action. 
The dissolution of the Committee of Five was weighty with 

* MUnstcr's Proposal for an answer to the Badonesc note, November 16, 


The Congress of Vienna 


consequences for many years, for it gave the stimulus to the 
estabhshment of constitutional political forms in South Germany. 
From the meanest motives, from the arrogance of sovereignty, 
and particularist dread of the intervention of the federal 
authority, the cabinets of the three middle-sized states of the 
south determined, upon their own initiative, to do what was 
necessary, and to grant a representative system to their respective 
countries. Moreover, it was easier for them to do this than it was 
for Prussia, for their Napoleonic prefectural administration had 
already been in existence for ten years, subjecting all portions of 
the country to an identical ordering, and checking all centri- 
fugal tendencies. As early as September, Max Joseph had 
ordered a revision of the paper constitution of 1808 ; in October, 
as soon as he perceived in Vienna that the great powers wished 
from the federal side to force the sovereigns to grant a minimum 
of constitutional rights, he commanded his committee of revision 
to bring its labours to a conclusion as speedily as possible. 
Frederick of Wiirtemberg, in an unmannerly rejoinder dated 
November 24th, made his minister defend once more the 
inviolable sovereignty of the Swabian kingly crown. He stormed 
and raged against the usurpation of the great powers, and at 
Christmas left Vienna in high dudgeon. None the less, he was 
too prudent not to see that the days of undisturbed autocracy 
were over. The Swabians could hardly recognise the brutal 
tyrant any longer, so gentle and gracious did he appear imme- 
diately after his return, so obviously did he endeavour to keep 
the peace with his people ; he would no longer hear a word about 
Napoleon, but no less did he definitely declare that he would never 
obey any instructions from Vienna.^ On January 11, 1815, 
he astonished his unhappy land by a proclamation which 
announced the speedy summoning of a Landtag. The king granted 
this long-designed benefit at the present moment in order to show 
that he " was not forced by any external necessity, or fulfilling 
any pledge entered into with others." He believed that in this 
way he would overreach the Germanic Federation ; he did not 
foresee how soon his ill-used people would itself exact a terrible 
penalty for the sins of the last decade. Nor did the sick grand- 
duke Charles of Baden lack understanding. The masterful 
exhortations of the great powers terrified him out of his dull 
meditations ; on December ist, in a definite note submitted to 

^ Report of the charge d'afiaires Joufiroy, Stuttgart, January 12 and March 7, 


History of Germany 

the Prussian chancellor, he indicated that he was prepared to 
concede to his people all the constitutional rights demanded irx 
the Prussian federal plan, and that he had already appointed a 
constitutional committee. Such were the turbid sources from 
which sprang the constitutional movement in South Germany ; 
but since this movement corresponded with the nature of things, 
it continued to progress even when the petty thrones had no 
longer anything to fear from the Germanic Federation. 

At that moment, the anxiety of the middle-sized states was 
by no means devoid of foundation, for the Prussian statesmen, 
unaffrighted by the breaking up of the Committee of Five, 
pursued with unabated zeal the work of constructing the German 
constitution. To them the national political development was a 
matter in which they put their whole hearts. Again and again 
had they countered the unpatriotic talk of the Bavarians and 
Wiirtembergers with the declaration that the king of Prussia 
" regarded it as his duty as a ruler to bring his subjects once more 
into such unison that they might combine with Germany to con- 
stitute a nation." Humboldt at once set to work upon the 
elaboration of a fresh scheme, but encountered a new and wholly 
unexpected difficulty. The Austrian minister, who had hitherto 
expressed himself as in favour of the circle constitution, was now 
suddenly of another mind. He conjectured, as was certainly 
extremely probable, that the small North German contingents, 
subordinated to the Prussian circle-governors, would infallibly 
disappear in the Prussian army ; and since in relation to the 
construction of the German constitution, which, for the rest, left 
him altogether cold, he pursued one aim alone, the hmitation of 
Prussian power, he now declared himself opposed to any sub- 
division into circles. Miinster, too, agreed with his Austrian 
friend when the latter evoked the spectre of North German 

The consequence was that Humboldt had now simul- 
taneously to elaborate two proposals for the federal act, one 
with, and the other without, circles ; in both of these the 
basic ideas of the twelve articles were retained. On December 
9th the indefatigable man expounded in a memorial the advan- 
tages of the circle constitution. It was indispensable to secure 
for the smallest states orderly stages of procedure for their 
judicial system, and to enable them to prepare, even in time of 
peace, for the full utilisation of their military energies in war ; 
the opposite was practicable only under the " Bonapartist system," 


The Congress of Vienna 

which hved in a continuous state of war and had no scruples 
about the means employed. At the same time he endeavoured 
to meet the complaints of the petty states regarding oppression, 
and proposed to accept into the council of the circle-governors, 
in addition to Baden and Electoral Hesse, three members of 
the council of princes, subject to annual rotation.' Two days 
later he sent the completed proposals to the chancellor, insisting 
once more how essential was the circle constitution to Prussia's 
disintegrated situation ; but recommending, none the less, that 
too urgent an insistence should not be made on behalf of this 
demand, because our strength in Germany was always in part a 
moral one, and because " Prussia must not appear to the petty 
princes as a danger, but as a protection." Now, at length, after 
nearly three months of fruitless negotiations, the talented man 
began to gain an inkling, although nothing more than an inkhng, 
of Austria's friendly intentions towards the federation. " In 
this German constitutional affair," he wrote, " others have gladly 
thrust us into the foreground, and, easily and readily, everything 
has given way before us, because (since it is known that we always 
desire a firm and vigorous constitution) there are those who would 
prefer that we should be made to appear disagreeable and 
dangerous to the princes to whom alone the fetters of a constitution 
are burdensome." Not even yet, however, was he able to recog- 
nise clearly that the Hofburg itself could not desire " a firm and 
vigorous constitution " ; on the contrary, he hoped to come to a 
speedy understanding with Austria and Hanover about one of 
the two proposals, and to be able in about a week to resume 
negotiations with Bavaria and Wiirtemberg.^' While the Prussian 
statesmen, faithfully diligent and devoid of cunning, were thus 
drawing water in the German sieve of the Danaides, Mettemich 
was secretly negotiating with Miinster about the design for a 
I Germanic Federation without Prussia ! 

Stein provided Humboldt's work with notes of his own, 

[demanding greater rights for the mediatised and for the imperial 

I knights, but also a larger measure of popular rights, especially 

the abolition of serfdom and of the corvee, as well as the abolition 

I of statute labour throughout Germany. Serious umbrage was 

taken by Stein on one account only, because Humboldt, out of 

regard for Austria, had weakened the provisions regarding the 

* Humboldt's Memorial upon the two new proposals for the federal act, 
December 9, 1814. 

• Humboldt to Hardenberg, December 11, 1814 

113 I 

History of Germany 

Landtags, and had given the provincial diets no more than a con- 
sultative voice. " This," declared Stein, " is a very retrograde step. 
Of all countries Prussia has least cause to take it and to induce 
others to take it. In this state are united all the elements which 
guarantee a peaceful and reasonable movement on the part of 
vigorously organised representative institutions ; nationality, 
custom, and proved readiness to furnish taxes and make sacri- 
fices, circumspection, sound reasoning, general culture. For many 
reasons, Austria cannot express like principles, on account of 
the diversity of the constituents of the country, on account of 
the lower level of general culture, the maxims of the government 
and of the rulers, and for this reason Austria may be an excep- 
tion. Let us leave this country to declare itself." ^ Thus even 
this ardent partisan of the Lorrainer emperordom felt himself 
obhged to demand a position of exception for Austria as soon as 
the practical consequences of federal hfe came under discussion. 

The arduous work of these December weeks remained without 
issue, for meanwhile the dispute concerning the Saxon and 
PoUsh questions had become aggravated, and the imminence of 
war engaged all minds, so that during the first half of January the 
work of constructing the German constitution made no advance. 
As soon as the air had cleared a Httle, Humboldt immediately 
returned to his child of sorrow. Meanwhile he had been asso- 
ciating a great deal with the well-meaning Weimar minister, von 
Gersdorff, had become better acquainted with the desires of the 
petty states, and had acquired the conviction that since the dis- 
solution of the empire there had come into existence at the 
German courts a colossal spirit of arrogance which it was neces- 
sary to take into account. The gradations of rank and of right 
which had existed in the old imperial constitution, had b^en 
forgotten ; the new sovereigns regarded one another as equals. 
If the federal act was to come into existence at all, there must 
not be imposed upon the petty states too marked a subordination 
to their greater rivals ; for, said Gersdorff, with that childlike 
innocence which has always been the privilege of the diplomatists 
of our minor states, " people love the semblance of freedom even 
if they cannot possess the reality."* Humboldt had from the 
first declared that a federation of states was possible only among 
a plurality of states. Moreover, every reason for the formation 

* stein's Remarks upon the proposal without circles, December 26 and 29, 

' Gersdorfi to Humboldt, December 6, 1814. 


The Congress of Vienna 

of a council of circle-governors fell to the ground if the circle sub- 
division itself was not to be accepted by the Hofburg. In view 
of the attitude which the middle-sized states had assumed in the 
Committee of Five and in the Saxon negotiations, it seemed ex- 
tremely doubtful whether a council of five, seven, or ten states 
would manage the executive authority of the federation more 
harmoniously and more effectively than a Bundestag consisting 
of all the states. 

For this reason, as early as January, Humboldt discussed 
with the chancellor the question whether, in view of the ill- 
humour of the minor states, it would not be better to drop the 
idea of the two councils, and instead to constitute a single federal 
assembly, which should discuss current affairs in committee, and 
deal with important questions in full assembly. In the full 
assembly every state should have at least one vote, whilst the 
mediatised should have a certain number of curiate votes. In 
view of the boundless jealousy of all against all, absolute parity 
seemed the only means of securing any kind of federal unity. 
The two statesmen thereupon composed a note to Metternich, 
begging for a definite declaration whether the imperial court finally 
refused to accept the circle constitution, and whether it would 
approve the formation of a single Bundestag instead of the two 
councils. When tliis had been answered, a new proposal could be 
elaborated. Prussia was prepared to make any concession, 
" There are only three points wliich must be regarded as abso- 
lutely essential : a powerful miUtary authority, federal jurisdiction, 
and a representative constitution guaranteed by federal charter. 
Without federal jurisdiction, the German legal edifice would lack 
the last and most necessary keystone."^ These were the three 
I cardinal points which Hardenberg had indicated in Paris as the 

■Hphief tasks of the federal constitution. 

IB Thus did the faithful patriots worry over the hopeless task. 

iHMone among all the German states did Prussia pursue the work 

IB>f constructing the German constitution with persistent zeal ; 

" her statesmen now indicated the only way which might lead at 
least to a certain degree of understanding. In all respects the 
Prussian poUcy was straightforward and devoid of arriere pensee, 
especially as regards the mediatised, who frequently expressed 


^ Hardenberg to Humboldt. Proposal for a note to Prince Metternich, 
'elating to the new organisation of the Bundestag. The draft is undated, but 
must have been written in January, since several of the sentences in the document 
are reproduced word lor word in the Prussian note of February and-ioth. 

History of Germany 

their thanks for the magnanimous protection which was extended 
to them by the Prussian crown alone. ^ 

To get matters under way again quickly, on February 2nd 
the Prussian statesmen determined to send to the Austrian 
minister the only thing that was ready, Humboldt's two proposals 
of December. In a covering note they repeated the considera- 
tions expressed in Humboldt's confidential memorial for and 
against the circle constitution, and declared themselves prepared 
to accept any alteration, save only upon the three essential points : 
military authority, federal jurisdiction, and constitutional rights. 
By this compliant attitude they hoped all the sooner to secure a 
speedy understanding with the Hofburg, since Humboldt's two 
proposals contained merely a more detailed elaboration of the 
twelve articles which, in October, Metternich himself had laid before 
the Committee of Five. It was therefore very welcome to the 
Prussians that, at the same moment, the league of German princes 
and towns once more took action. Increased to the number of 
thirty-two members by the accession of Baden and some of the 
smaller states, on February 2nd the league invited the two leading 
powers to open as soon as possible the deUberations of all the states 
concerned. Hardenberg and Humboldt immediately declared 
themselves ready, and since Metternich also agreed, they now, 
on February 19th, despatched their note, with the two memorials, 
to the Austrian cabinet. 

The Austrian statesman, however, who in the autumn had 
walked so pleasantly hand in hand with Prussia, now discovered 
endless scruples. During the Saxon negotiations he had learned 
to value the middle-sized states as useful allies against the North 
German rival, and wished to avoid anything which could wound their 
pride and infringe their sovereignty. The attitude towards the 
Germanic Federation taken by the Hofburg had been disclosed, 
as long ago as December, by Baron von Wessenbcrg, in a new 
federal scheme. This was the fifth proposal mooted in the 
weary affair. It was a senseless botch, wherein the German states 
were invited at their discretion to join a federation which was to 
preserve the common external and internal security ; whoever 
joined was not to secede without the assent of the other 
members. All the states of the federation were to have equal 
rights as members. A pennanent Bundesrat was to be con- 
stituted out of the envoys of all the states, Austria holding the 

* Count SoltiM-Laubach to Hardenberg, April 4, 1815 ; and several other 
similar memorials. 


The Congress of Vienna 

presidency. There was no trace of a genuine federal military 
authority. The only function of the Bundesrat was " to take 
care " that every state should adequately maintain its own con- 
tingent. The expenditure was to be met by proportionate con- 
tributions. In foreign affairs, the rights of the individual states 
of the federation were to remain unimpaired, except that their 
alliances with foreign powers were not to be directed against the 
federation itself. Diets were to be summoned within a year and 
a day, but their organisation was to be left to the suzerain lords. 
There was also an article about the mediatised, and about a few 
exceedingly modest liberties of the subjects, among which freedom 
of the press was not numbered. Finally came a promise that 
the federation would " care " for the freedom of commerce and 
navigation. 1 Now, at length, the Hofburg showed its colours. 
In October it had accepted the twelve articles, only because at 
that time it wished to keep Prussia in a good humour. Metter- 
nich's real opinion was still, as it had been in Teplitz, that the 
sovereignty of the German states must be limited only so far as 
was necessary to safeguard the European possessions of the House 
of Austria. Of the three points which Prussia regarded as 
essential to the federal constitution, one, federal jurisdiction, 
was entirely disregarded in Wessenberg's plan ; as for the other 
two, miUtary authority and constitutional rights, Mettemich's 
confidant eluded the issue with a few rhetorical artifices. So 
utterly divergent were the aims of the two powers, whose 
interests Hardenberg held to be harmonious. 

The work of Wessenberg could quietly abide its hour, 
precisely because it was the emptiest and most colourless of all 
the proposals hitherto put forward. This became the basis of 
the German federal constitution, the egg out of which the cuckoo 
^of the Frankfort Bundestag was hatched. For the moment, 
[etternich sagely refrained from presenting the work of his privy- 
councillor as a formal proposal of the Austrian government ; he 
[contented himself with declaring that Humboldt's plans were 
pmpracticable. Since the two leading powers could not agree 
ipon a proposal, the promised deliberations of all the states 
[concerned could not be begun. 

To complete the confusion. Stein now threw a new apple of 
discord among the disputants. The imperial knight could not 

^ The view of A. Schmidt {Gesch. d.d. Verfassungsfrage, p. 373) that Metternich 

Ced to make use of this proposal in order to exclude Prussia from Germany, 
proved, and to me seems quite unprovable. 

History of Germany 

so speedily abandon his fine imperial dreams ; too profoundly 
had he taken to heart the grandiose images of the days of the 
Hohenstaufen. As soon as he was assured that the petty states, 
in words at least, demanded the re-establishment of the imperial 
crown, he resumed his Teplitz plans, and on this occasion he even 
succeeded in convincing the czar. From the untoward experi- 
ences of the last weeks, Alexander had learned how readily an 
Austro-French alliance against Russia and Prussia could be formed, 
and he indulged the hope that the possession of the German 
imperial crown would, as of old, render difficult an approximation 
between the Hofburg and the Tuileries. But even now, as always 
during the congress of Vienna, he acted as a trustworthy friend 
of Frederick William, and would not support the imperial plan 
unless Prussia freely agreed. Consequently, from February 9th 
onwards there went on a lively exchange of notes between Stein 
and Capodistrias on the one side, and Humboldt on the other — 
to Hardenberg's profound annoyance. At first, as formerly in 
Teplitz, Stein put forward the confused idea that because Austria 
was not a purely German state the imperial state must be linked 
to Germany by an artificially constituted bond. The imperial 
knight and his Russian assistant marshalled incontestable grounds 
for the view that a monarch would be a more vigorous head than 
a council. No less incontrovertibly did Humboldt show the inca- 
pacity of Austria to utilise this monarchical power for the good 
of the nation. "Germany refuses to succumb to that Austrian 
immobility to which experience is nothing, and over which cen- 
turies pass without leaving a trace." The necessity of the 
Prussian emperordom, which seemed to be an obvious deduction 
from these pros and cons, could not be recognised in the then 
situation ; the Lorrainers were once more so firmly established 
in the saddle that they sometimes even thought they 
would be able to unseat Prussia altogether from the back of the 
German steed ! The result was that the imperial plan came to 
nought. Frederick William did not allow himself to be per- 
suaded by Stein, although even his confidants Wittgenstein and 
Knescbeck did not conceal their longing for the re-cstablishment 
of the Hapsburg emperordom. Humboldt was right in his dry 
declaration that nothing but a federation now remained possible. 

In these fruitless interludes four additional weeks were lost, 
and hardly had this period elapsed when, on March 7th, came 
the news of Napoleon's return. For many weeks, the European 
war-alliance and the question of preparations for war pressed all 


The Congress of Vienna 

other problems into the background The German constitution 
seemed lost beyond the possibility of rescue. Even the German 
military committee, established at Prussia's instigation, and 
presided over by the crown prince of Wiirtemberg, broke up with 
nothing effected. With angry shame did Riihie von Lilienstem 
leave this assembly from which he had expected the introduc- 
tion of universal military service for the whole of Germany. The 
conferences regarding German river navigation, which had 
also been summoned at Prussia's suggestion, proved a similar 
failure, for the Guelphs found it altogether unprecedented that 
purely German rivers should enjoy the same freedom as did 
those which belonged to several European powers in common. 
Munster wrote disdainfully to the prince-regent that Hanover 
would certainly not make financial sacrifices " in order to favour 
a vague idea of freedom of commerce." Honourable men 
among the German diplomats were overcome by an overwhelming 
sense of shame. What a spectacle had this Germany offered for 
six long months, Germany which had so recently filled the world 
with her warlike renown ! Nothing but quarrels and disputes, 
nothing but envy against the saviours of the nation, and still no 
issue ! Gersdorff, in distress of mind, informed the Prussians 
that, after all, nothing effective could be made out of Germany, 
that the hostile sentiments of Bavaria and her friends could not 
be mistaken ; it was better therefore that Prussia should con- 
clude no more than an alhance with the south, but a firm federa- 
tion with the smaller North German states, for this would offer 
a better future for the whole fatherland.^ 

Most of the territorial questions in dispute had been settled, 
the monarchs were preparing to depart, all looked impatiently 
for the close of the congress and tensely awaited news from the 
west ; the Rhenish Confederates once more impudently lifted 
their heads, and several of the middle-sized states hardly con- 
cealed their hope for a new victory of the Imperator. This was 
not the mood in which to look for the erection of a permanent 
national structure. Hardenberg, who as a rule had a secure sense 
of the favour of the moment, wished now to postpone the con- 
stitutional deliberations, until, after a new defeat of Napoleon, 
the arrogance of the Rhenish Confederates should have been 
broken, and the general sentiment should have once more 
become calm and collected. But how would the nation, from 
which new and severe sacrifices were once again demanded, receive 

* Gersdorff to Humboldt, April 7, 181 5. 

History of Germany 

its princes and ministers who, from this pomp of endless festivals, 
brought nothing, absolutely nothing, home ? It seemed alto- 
gether too disgraceful ; even Gentz issued warnings against the 
anger of public opinion. Moreover, Metternich was urgently 
desirous that the German federal act, which in his eyes was 
indeed no more than a European affair, should be included in the 
great final act of the congress, and should thus be effected under 
the guarantee of the whole of Europe. At a later date he 
regarded this point as of the highest value, and was glad to express 
the characteristic opinion that the Germanic Federation was a 
permanent league precisely for the reason that " its institution 
was the joint work of the European powers and of the German 
princes,"^ Strangely enough, this view was shared by all the 
Prussian statesmen, even by Humboldt. They hoped by the 
common guarantee of Europe to render a new felony more diffi- 
cult for the middle-sized states, and they did not reflect how 
horribly the old empire had formerly suffered under the officious 
intervention of its foreign guarantors. The upshot was that 
Prussia was determined to resume the negotiations at this most 
unfavourable time conceivable. 

For a long time, indeed, Humboldt had ceased to hope for 
the attainment of a tolerable ordering of German affairs. Of 
what use was dialectic skill against the ill-will of the middle- 
sized states and the calculated reserve of Austria ? In his own 
words, nothing now remained but to bring the federation into 
existence in whatever way it might be possible. But he once 
more put his shoulder to the wheel, and in the beginning of April 
brought forward a new and notably abbreviated proposal. This 
was the sixth. But the negotiations were gain postponed ; the 
middle-sized states displayed no inclination to discusss anything. 
During the latter half of the month, the general sentiment seemed 
once more somewhat more favourable. Immediately, Humboldt set 
to work with renewed courage,' and on May ist brought forward 
a seventh and somewhat more detailed plan. 

The Hofburg, however, declared both these proposals impos- 
sible. The House of Austria itself, was, of course, in accord- 
ance with its often displayed fidelity to the empire, prepared for 
every sacrifice ; no one could possibly doubt this who listened 
to the ardent asseverations of the Austrian statesmen. It was 
only on account of the insuperable resistance of the minor kingly 

* Metternich to Hruby, December ii, 1817. 

' So he himself reports, in his Systematic Description, 


The Congress of Vienna 

courts, that the minister found himself compelled, to his profound 
regret, once more to reject the Prussian proposals. Mettemich's 
rich diplomatic experience had taught him that long and weari- 
some disputes are ultimately decided through general exhaus- 
tion. Such a feeling now began to master everyone. All agreed 
with the Austrian when he declared, what had been his opinion 
as long ago as the previous September, that it was not yet a 
suitable time to think of a federal constitution, and that it would 
suffice if the " elements " of such a constitution could be 
established. He then produced once more Wessenberg's plan of 
December, which could indeed hardly be regarded as the element 
of an element, had this botch somewhat enlarged, and on May 
7th handed the new elaboration to the Prussian statesmen as an 
eighth proposal. Regarding this proposal detailed negotiations 
were now at length entered upon between Mettemich and 
Hardenberg. At the desire of Prussia, the Austrian incorporated 
a few strengthening clauses ; the chancellor, upon his own 
initiative, added an article about the mediatised, and thus there 
came into existence the ninth and last federal scheme, which, on 
May 23rd, in the name of Austria and Prussia, Mettemich cir- 
culated among the plenipotentiaries of all the German states for 
their approval. Notwithstanding the twofold remodelling, the 
main articles of the Austrian proposal of December ist remained 
unaltered, so that Wessenberg must be regarded as the true 
author of the German federal act. The amiable and highly 
cultured baron was regarded as one of the most open-minded 
politicians of Austria ; like his brother, the coadjutor, detested 
by the Catholics, he even cherished a certain enthusiasm for the 
German fatherland. But in matters of German policy, there could 
not exist any difference of opinion among Austrian states- 
men ; whoever served the House of Austria must endeavour to 
give the German united state the character of a loose international 
alUance, because otherwise the imperial state could find no place 
in it. 

On the previous day. May 22nd, Frederick WilUam had signed 
the momentous ordinance regarding the representation of the 
people. The Prussian statesmen, as Humboldt often said, 
regarded it as an honour to them that no one in Vienna had been 
warmer than they in advocating the rights of the German diets. 
How, therefore, could Prussia lag behind the South German courts 
which had already instituted constitutional commissions ? Who 

Bould then have regarded it as even conceivable that the 

History of Germany 

introduction of the representative system was in Prussia to encounter 
the most formidable obstacles, and was here to be longest delayed ? 
At least a formal pledge seemed inevitable ; Hardenberg had 
long been accustomed to compromise with the difficult duties of 
the legislator by means of high-sounding promises. Since 1808 
the king himself had also been won over to the idea of constitu- 
tional reform, and at the same time he desired to give his faithful 
people a sign of grateful confidence. But with what criminal 
carelessness did the chancellor once more set to work ! He made 
the king promise that the provincial diets should be re-established, 
and where they were no longer in existence that they should be 
reintroduced, and that from them the general representation of the 
country should be derived by indirect election. In this way he tied 
in advance the hands of the absolute ruler, and this at a moment 
in which he himself had not even a superficial knowledge con- 
cerning the constitutional rights of those variegated territories 
which were newly entering the Prussian state ! Public opinion, 
thankful for everything which was regarded as open-minded, 
accepted the royal promise with delight ; and especial pleasure 
was exhibited at the promise of a written constitution, such as 
was now in fashion. All too soon was it to appear that Hardenberg 
had made a grave political mistake, that he had promised the 

Humour was not to be lacking to the tragical failure of the 
hopes of our fatherland. The work of the German constitution 
which had been proceeding almost without result for seven 
months, must now at last be carried out with breathless and 
inconsiderate haste. When the oft-promised deliberations of all 
the states concerned were at length opened, Gentz had already 
almost completed the editing of the final act of the congress ; it 
was necessary to be speedy if the German federal act was still 
to find a place therein. 

The result was that between May 23rd and June loth, in 
eleven brief conferences, of which two were no more than opening 
and closing ceremonies, the most difficult of all European questions 
was settled. Never had the destiny of a great nation been played 
with in a more frivolous manner. Wiirtemberg was absent at 
the opening. Baron von Linden, writing in French, excused his 
absence upon a country visit. His colleague Wintzingerode 
pleaded indisposition, and the Wiirtembcrgers remained absent 
from all the subsequent sittings as well. A substitute was indeed 


The Congress of Vienna 

present for the Badenese minister, who had already left Vienna, 
but the substitute had no credentials, and after a few days took 
his departure. All the others put in an appearance. At first 
the petty states were represented by five plenipotentiaries only, 
but from the third sitting onwards it was arranged that each state 
should have its own representative. 

The real discussion began on May 26th. Bavaria imme- 
diately demanded, against the lively opposition of the Prussians, 
that the expression " sovereign " princes should be adopted in 
the introduction to the federal act. When the proposal was then 
discussed in detail, there arose in connection with every article 
so hopeless a confusion of fundamentally diverse demands, and 
such a mountain of notes, reservations, and considerations accu- 
mulated upon the president's table, that all possibihty of an 
understanding came to an end. The session ended in ill- 
humour. The next day, Hardenberg and Humboldt wrote 
despairingly to Mettemich and Miinster a note,^ in which they 
declared that in view of the brief time available, and of the 
experiences of the last sitting, the continuation of a genuine dis- 
cussion seemed impossible ; views were too divergent ; more- 
over, Austria, Prussia, and Hanover — which in the eyes of the 
Prussian statesmen still seemed faithfully aUied in sentiment — 
must not put themselves in a false position, must not for the sake 
of peace allow themselves to be forced to vote for the weakening 
of the federal authority. " The undersigned have in all the 
prehminary deliberations been throughout of the opinion of his 
grace Prince Mettemich that what the previous proposals con- 
tained upon this matter can be sacrificed only to the necessity 
that the federation shall here and now be brought into existence ; 
and they freely admit that it is solely upon this ground, solely 
in order to avoid hindering or postponing any union of the princes 
of Germany, and in addition with very painful sentiments, that 
they have joined in bringing forward a proposal of which they 
feel only too keenly how Uttle it corresponds to the important 
aims which had been entertained immediately after the liberation 
of Germany and even at the opening of the congress ; and what 
an unfavourable impression this will make upon the pubhc. 
Should this proposal be yet further weakened by a discussion 
for which the present moment (in which speedy general agree- 
ment is the dominant need) remains extremely unfavourable, 
hardly any good result can be expected from the proceedings in 

^ Hardenberg and Humboldt to Mettemich and Munster, May 27, 1815. 


History of Germany 

Frankfort." For this reason, Prussia demanded that the three 
great powers should present an ultimatum to the German states ; 
the three courts should accept the alterations which seemed 
unavoidable after the proceedings of the last conference, and they 
should declare in the next sitting that any further alterations 
were inadmissible ; the federation should be formed with all 
the princes prepared to accept this proposal ; the Bundestag of 
Frankfort cou^d decide about matters of detail. The note con- 
cluded by saying that if this procedure were adopted, the majority 
of the states would immediately agree to the proposal, whilst 
some would not adhere till later, as soon as they became con- 
vinced that the federation would come into existence whether 
they adhered or not. 

Here at length was a rapid and bold seizing of opportunity, 
after the old and proud Frederician manner ! If Austria and 
England-Hanover had accepted the Prussian proposal, success 
would have been assured ; federal jurisdiction, more incisive 
formulation of the article about the diets, and all the improve- 
ments which Prussia had effected in the Austrian proposal, 
would have been secured for the Germanic Federation, for not 
three weeks later the battle of Waterloo was fought, and after 
that battle how would the middle-sized states have dared to 
remain aloof from the Germanic Federation ? Moreover, the 
Prussian proposal was in perfect harmony with the well-grounded 
legal position which in November the three allied courts had 
maintained against the cabinets of Stuttgart and Carlsruhe — the 
position that the petty states were by the treaties of accession 
pledged to join the federation. It now, however, became manifest 
that the vigorous notes of the previous November had, for 
Austria and Hanover, been mere moves in the diplomatic game. 
Mettemich would no longer recognise this secure legal aspect of 
the question. Just as Wessenberg's proposal had merely con- 
tained a modest " invitation " to the German princes to enter 
the federation at their pleasure, so now the Austrian minister 
declared that no kind of pressure, not even indirect pressure, 
should be exercised upon the German sovereigns to induce them 
to join the federation ! What did he care about federal juris- 
diction and diets, these two fixed ideas of Prussian politics 
towards which the Hofburg was half indifferent and half sus- 
IMcious ? Was Austria to forfeit the friendship of the middle- 
sized states for such things as these ? 

Mettemich rejected the Prussian proposal, and on May 29th 


The Congress of Vienna 


the conference was continued in the former chaotic style. The 
prospect became ever gloomier, for, at this sitting, Councillor von 
Globig, envoy of the finally reinstated king of Saxony, was intro- 
duced into the assembly ; by his presence the centrifugal 
tendencies were notably reinforced. Globig naturally op)ened 
confidential deliberations with his old well-wisher Mettemich. 
It was secretly discussed whether Saxony should not enter into 
a South German federation under the leadership of Austria, but 
the idea was speedily abandoned, for the Austrian was of opinion 
that in existing circumstances a united Germanic Federation was, 
after all, the most suitable means for effectively checking Prussian 
ambition ! On May 30th the conference discussed the article 
about the Landtags. Since Austria had ruled out all the consti- 
tutional rights introduced into the Prussian proposals, this article 
now ran quite briefly, to the effect that a representative consti- 
tution must exist in all German states. Gagem, who was always 
an enthusiastic advocate of constitutional ideas, found this word- 
ing far too bald and unsatisfying. To others it appeared too strict 
and commanding ; who could venture to issue an order to 
a sovereign prince ? The majority decided : " In all German 
states a representative constitution will come into existence " — 
a prophecy instead of a command ! Many of the voters hoped 
in their secret hearts that the prophecy would never be fulfilled. 

On June 2nd came the catastrophe, the triumph of particu- 
larism. The German world was to learn what the restoration of 
the Albertine kingship signified for our national pohcy. There 
was no longer any dispute about the fact that the elements of 
the future federal constitution were being discussed. The federal 
act expressly declared that the first business of the Frankfort 
Bundestag would be : " The drafting of the fundamental laws 
of the federation and its organic institution." There thus still 
remained a faint hope that in Frankfort, after Napoleon's over- 
throw, a reasonable-minded majority might come into existence, 
and that some of the sins of Vienna might be atoned. But now 
Saxony demanded the liberum veto, unanimity for all resolutions 
of the plenum of the federal assembly. An ultimate vestige of 
shame prevented the conference from accepting this proposal in 
all its naked impudence. But the majority next day passed a 
resolution which amounted to the same thing, deciding that all 
decisions about fundamental laws, about organic federal institu- 
tions, concerning jura singulorum, and concerning the affairs of 
religion, could be passed only by a unanimous vote. In this way 


History of Germany 

a new Polish Reichstag was founded, a permanent obstacle was 
imposed against the legislative development of the future German 
imited state. The party of reform was forced into the paths of 
revolution. This was the first sign of life of the re-established 
Saxon kingdom. The fundamental laws of a federal constitution 
which had not yet come into existence, whose elements were only 
now being estabUshed, were to be subordinated to unanimous 
resolutions. This was merely to declare at the outset that the 
new Germany could be created only with the aid of the sword. 
And what was the meaning of the phrase " organic institu- 
tion " ? Here also there was no general imderstanding, and all 
explanation was shunned. 

This decision spoiled the little there was still left to spoil. 
Throughout, particularism and the arbitrary disputes of the petty 
thrones had retained the upper hand. It was natural for them 
to assert their right to independent diplomatic relations, and to 
independent alliances ; the only reservation in the latter case 
was that they might not enter into alliance with foreigners against 
the federation or its members. But this did not unconditionally 
exclude the possibiUty that Germans might take the field against 
Germans as accessory troops of foreign powers. And this danger 
was still imminent. The old and debased traffic in soldiers was 
resumed. Even during the congress, a Nassau regiment was 
sold to Holland, or, to use the official expression, was " lent." 
" Should a federal war be declared " no member of the federa- 
tion might undertake individual negotiations with the enemy. 
But what a federal war might be, and whether the federation 
was pledged to take action in case of an attack upon the foreign 
possessions of any of its members — concerning these vital questions 
no agreement could be reached. The only thing that was certain 
was that the federation, in a more paltry position than a third- 
rank state, might not itself wage a war of offence, for the federal 
ax:t spoke only of defence against the aggressor. When the rights 
of the diets had been dealt with in a phrase, the arrogance of the 
Napoleonic kings was diverted against the mediatised. Vainly 
did Prussia endeavour to secure a few curiate votes for the 
dethroned ; the middle-sized states carried the proposal that 
this question should be referred to the Bundestag and, after 
all that had passed here under everyone's eyes, the value of 
this consolation was obvious. Still worse was the case of 
the Jews. The original proposal had secured for them " the right 
which they already enjoyed in the individual states of the federa- 


The Congress of Vienna 

tion." This significant in, was now replaced by a von, so that 
they were guaranteed the rights they enjoyed from the individual 
states of the federation. The change gave Hanover and Electoral 
Hesse a free hand to repeal the laws of the kingdom of Westphalia, 
and to reintroduce the Jewish poll-tax ; the Jews of Frankfort 
forfeited the emancipation which they had recently acquired 
from the prince-primate Dalberg after purchasing the Juden- 

The hopes for a national reconstruction of the Catholic church 
of Germany also vanished little by little. How greatly had 
the German hierarchy been ill-used by the secularisation and the 
innumerable other arbitrary acts of the Napoleonic epoch. How 
profoundly had its political power dechned. Instead of a crowd 
of spiritual princes, there now sat in the high council of the Ger- 
manic Federation only six Catholic sovereigns, Austria, Bavaria, 
and Saxony, two HohenzoUerns, and Liechtenstein. Both parties 
of the German clergy besieged the statesmen with petitions. 
Cardinal Consalvi and the Oratorians demanded the restoration 
of their ancient possessions, and wherever possible the restora- 
tion also of the ancient political power of the Church ; they 
demanded in any case the participation of ecclesiastical represen- 
tatives in the negotiations concerning the Federation, and the 
restoration of the bereaved bishoprics by the pope. Heinrich 
Wessenberg, on the other hand, advocated the plan of a German 
national Church, under the leadership of a prince-primate ; he 
repeatedly brought forward the scheme in verbose memorials, 
and yet, in priestly fashion, remained ultramontane towards the 
Protestants ; it seemed to him hardly desirable that the Federa- 
tion should recognise the rights of the Protestants. The two 
parties fought one another vigorously. To the Oratorians, 
Wessenberg was hardly better than a heretic. Count Spiegel, how- 
ever, also a distinguished and highly-cultured prince of the Church, 
and a man of the old school, urgently warned the Prussian states- 
men against the memorials of the Oratorians ; " They are," he 
said, " permeated by a purely ultramontane spirit, and contrast 
strongly with the ever-venerable sense of truth which animated 
the fathers at the Councils of Constance and of Basle." It is true 
that he desired the re-establishment of the Cathohc church, but he 
desired also its further development through the influence of 

■■f liberal governments." * 

IK Bavaria and Wiirtemberg were equally hostile to both 

■ ^^^ ^ Spiegel to Humboldt, December 2, 1815. 


History of Germany 

parties ; each of them separately hoped to found provincial 
bishoprics in virtue of a concordat with Rome, and in this, as in 
everything else, to leave the Germanic Federation altogether 
out of account. The Prussians, finally, in this question, as 
throughout the federal negotiations at Vienna, showed themselves 
to be just, enhghtened, and national-minded ; they demanded 
that the Federation should give the Cathohc church a common 
constitution for the whole of Germany, but that it should also 
guarantee the Protestant churches in the possession of their 
ancient rights. Such were the divergencies of view. Only in one 
respect were all in agreement, in the opinion that Austria must 
be left to herself, must remain outside the new ordering of our 
ecclesiastical hfe. As soon as any practical question came up 
for discussion, it always appeared that Austria lived apart from 
Germany. It was for this reason that Heinrich Wessenberg, 
admired by the liberal world, could live in Vienna with his 
brother the Austrian privy-councillor, and could even enjoy a 
certain favour in the circles of the Hofburg ; what he was aiming 
at related to countries elsewhere in the empire and left the imperial 
hereditary dominions unaffected. Numerous conferences had 
been devoted to these ecclesiastical questions, the petitions and 
proposals relating to this matter had made a mountainous mass 
of writings ; at length, presumably at the instigation of Wes- 
senberg's elder brother, in the last Austrian federal proposal an 
article had been included, providing the Catholic church with a 
common constitution, and promising the Protestants the main- 
tenance of their ancient rights. The majority agreed. Bavaria, 
however, was adverse, and maintained her position with such 
tenacity that Heinrich Wessenberg abandoned hope. On June 3rd 
he wrote to the chancellor' that since ecclesiastical affairs in Ger- 
many were still in a condition of unparalleled neglect, and since 
the congress had not been able to concern itself about matters 
of detail he would venture to propose that, within two months, 
the sovereigns concerned, the princes with Catholic subjects, 
should send representatives to Frankfort. There, in Frankfort, 
in free conferences, which to Bavarian pride might seem intoler- 
ably dangerous, the indefatigable man still hoped to bring his 
national church into being. 

Meanwhile Austria herself had attained to the view that 
matters must be brought to a conclusion. If the negotiations 
were to continue, there might be nothing left even of the Austrian 

• WcHscnbcrg's Memorial to Hardcnbcrg, June 3, 1813. 

The Congress of Vienna 


proposal. Metternich therefore, on June 5th, declared to the 
conference — what he had already more than once hinted, but had 
not yet carried into effect out of regard for the feelings of the 
Rhenish Confederate courts — that the federal act had acquired 
a form which appeared to correspond to the views of most of the 
courts ; he then announced Austria's adhesion to the Germanic 
Federat on on the basis of the constitutional principles which had 
now been established, and begged the other states to follow this 
example. Yet he gave no intimation that the Federation would, 
as Prussia had demanded, come into existence without the 
adhesion of all the states, but left it open to each to join or not 
at pleasure. Thereupon Prussia, Hanover, Denmark, Luxemburg, 
and some of the petty states, announced their adhesion. Most 
of them subsequently appended doleful written explanations. 
Prussia merely added that it was better, after all, "to form an 
imperfect federation than none at all " ; Hanover's explanation 
was to the same effect ; Luxemburg concluded a bond " which 
time, experience, and increasing confidence must improve " — and 
so on. But what an uproar there was in the assembly when Count 
Rechberg now dryly declared that he found it necessary for 
the present to withhold the adhesion of Bavaria ! He added 
some solemn and cryptic obervations from which everyone was 
forced to conclude that the court of Munich renounced the Federa- 
tion. The dismay was general ; and, most unfortunately, the 
good Gagem now committed a folly weighty with consequences. 
He never could do anything without the accompaniment of 
imperial patriotic phrases, and therefore, whilst announcing the 
adhesion of Luxemburg, he added as a condition that the Federa- 
tion must embrace the whole of Germany. Nassau, as always, 
took the same line as the Orange cousins. Gagem's proviso was 
unquestionably in part due to a federalistic whim, for the Luxem- 
burg envoy remarked in an elucidatory note that his king could 
not admit that anything but the totality of the German states 
could constitute a Germanic Federation, and that therefore the 
garrisoning of the federal fortress of Luxemburg could only be 
effected by the Federation, that is to say, by all the states in rota- 
tion. The declaration of the garrulous visionary was certainly 
not made with malicious intent. He had no idea of how bad an 
example he was setting. What confusion would arise if some of 
the other states were to declare that they would join the Federa- 
tion only if all the rest did ! And this in effect was what hap- 
pened. The future of Germany was put up to tender, and was 

129 K 

History of Germany 

ultimately left to the decision of those who desired to do least for 
the fatherland. 

It was decided that at the conference of June 8th the still 
remaining declarations of adhesion should be read, and the work 
should be concluded. The t\yo intervening days passed in anxious 
excitement, in painful suspense. Count Rechberg gave no sign ; 
it was the general conviction that Bavaria would not join. Even 
the phlegmatic Hiunboldt was overwhelmed with all that he had 
had to endure in this environment. Profoundly discouraged, he 
was already drawing up the plan for a provisional federation 
without Bavaria.^ Meanwhile, Gagern's mistake brought its 
fruit. Saxony, Darmstadt, and others, even Denmark and Meck- 
lenburg, which had adhered on June 5th without reservation, now 
declared that they could only join a federation which embraced 
the whole of Germany. Several of these states expressly begged 
that the princes who still wished to remain outside should have 
adhe;sion made possible for them by new concessions. It was 
an endless screw. If Bavaria should refuse to join, everything 
would fly to pieces. 

Thereupon, on the morning of June 8th, Count Rechberg 
announced that his new instructions had come to hand. Such 
was his assertion, but it seems by no means impossible that the 
Bavarian had in his creative imagination arranged the whole 
ridiculous climax of the unworthy intrigue, simply in order to 
secure thereby more effectively the granting of the ultimate wishes 
of the Wittelsbachs. However, everyone breathed more freely. 
Austria and Prussia immediately entered into confidential con- 
versation with Rechberg. In addition to a few matters of trifling 
importance, he demanded the abohtion of federal jurisdiction 
and of the article concerning the CathoHc church. Thus was 
fulfilled Hardenberg's warning of May 27th. The two great 
powers were actually placed in the unpleasant position of having 
to secure peace by agreeing to the weakening of the federal 
authority — though this, indeed, was no sacrifice for Mettemich. 
Federal jurisdiction was abandoned, although, as Humboldt had 
often said, this was the keystone of the German legal structure ; 
while of the enormous mass of paper which represented the 
ecclesiastical negotiations, nothing remained beyond an exiguous 
article decreeing what had long already been the law almost all 
over Germany, namely, that the differences between the Christian 

' Humboldt's I'roposal for a provisional treaty between the acceding Gernian 


The Congress of Vienna 

sects should not involve any difference in the enlargement of civic 
and political rights. Then the conference was opened, and 
Metternich announced " with pleasure" that Bavaria wished only 
a few trifling alterations to be effected. These few trifling 
alterations were approved, and now the matter was really settled, 
for what more was there to excise from this act ? On June loth 
one more sitting was held in order to sign the federal act, and in 
order to celebrate with all diplomatic honours the interment of 
the corpse of German unity. When could its resurrection be 
expected ? 

The first eleven articles of the charter dated June 8th were 
further incorporated into the final act of the congress, just 
before its dissolution ; henceforward victorious Germany had 
to revere all the princes of Europe, with the exception of 
the pope and the sultan, as the guarantors of her fundamental 
law. Nor were there lacking the protests which traditionally 
belong to every great German action of state. All the mediatised 
proclaimed their rights. Even more boldly did the princes of 
Isenburg and Knyphausen lift their heads ; they regarded them- 
selves as sovereigns, and as such declared their accession to the 
Germanic Federation. It was superfluous ; eight-and- thirty 
German powers sufficed for the needs of German civiUsation, which 
indeed, according to the general view, was rooted in the motley 
complexity of our national life. It suddenly appeared, however, 
that there was yet a thirty-ninth sovereign, the landgrave of 
Hesse-Homburg. He had been altogether forgotten ; but since 
the patriotic old gentleman and his vahant son enjoyed the 
special favour of the two great powers, the Germans might hope 
that the Bundestag would still have pity on him. The loudest 
complaints of all came from the Roman see. In an energetic 
Latin note. Cardinal Consalvi appealed as a precedent to the 
action of the nuncio Chigi, who. had once protested against the 
Peace of WestphaUa, and entered a protest because neither the 
Holy Roman Empire, the centre of poUtical unity consecrated 
by the holiness of faith, nor yet the power of the spiritual princes, 
had been re-established. 

It was only in order that the Federation might certainly 
comprise the whole of Germany, that the better disposed cabinets 
had yielded to the last extravagant demands of Bavaria ; and 
yet, notwithstanding all the chaffering and haggling, a federa- 
tion of all the powers had not come into existence. Just as 
formerly North Carolina and Rhode Island had failed to participate 


History of Germany 

in the establishment of the second federal union of North 
America, so Baden^ and^Wiirtemberg remained apart from the 
foundation of the Germanic Federation, and did not join until 
Napoleon's overthrow had for the second time been decided, 
Baden adhered on July 26th, and Wiirtemberg on September ist. 

Thus came into existence the federal act, the most unworthy 
constitution which was ever imposed upon a great civilised nation 
by rulers of its own blood, a work which was in many respects 
even more lamentable than the structure of the old empire in the 
century of its extinction. It lacked that majesty of historical 
greatness which formed an atmosphere around the empire of the 
Othos even in its decay. This political artifact stood up in all its 
bareness and nudity, the work of a short-lived and self-centred 
diplomacy which had forgotten all the memories of its own 
nation ; there was here no rust of centuries to conceal the scanty 
hideousness of the forms. People sang and talked about 
emperor and empire ; but never has a German heart beat higher 
at the name of the Germanic Federation. Of the states of the 
federation, there were six only, and these among the smallest, 
whose territorial area had not undergone changes during the last 
twenty years ; even the most tolerant of nations could no longer 
believe in the legitimacy of a territorial distribution which was 
at once so new and so arbitrary. The same foreign dominion 
which had brought the old empire to destruct ion pressed now upon 
the new federation. Since the days of Frederick, the power of 
Austria had undergone a notable increase, and was now all the 
harder to break because Austria exercised her influence directly, 
without the masterful forms of the emperordom. The foreign 
diplomats smiled maliciously, saying that it was an excellent thing 
to have coupled Austria and Prussia in this way and thus to have 
weakened both ! The old imperial law had at least continued to 
speak of a German nation ; the idea that all Germans were loyal, 
attached to the emperor, and ready to serve him, had never com- 
pletely disappeared. The new federal act knew nothing of a 
German nation ; it recognised only Bavarians, Waldcckers, 
Schwarzburg-Sondcrshauseners, subjects of those German princes 
who of their own free will had joined a legal union. The nation 
had to drain the cup of humiliation to the dregs ; the Wiirtem- 
berger 's saying that a nation, after all, is not to be constructed 
out of different peoples, had proved perfectly true. The Germans 
stood altogether out of relationship to the federal authority, and 


The Congress of Vienna 

were not pledged in any way to obey it ; only when a 
sovereign deigned to recognise a federal decree as a law of the 
land, were his subjects compelled to obey this law. The nation 
was mediatised by a league of princes. Like the revolution of 
1803, this new constitution of Germany was created exclusively 
by the dynasts. 

The new Bundestag was the Reichstag of Ratisbon in a some- 
what more modem form, just as cumbrous and just as impracti- 
cable ; it was a mere formahty that it sometimes sat in committee 
and sometimes in plenum, for even in committee all the nine-and- 
thirty voted. The contrast between formal rights and living 
power was even more crudely conspicuous in the Germanic 
Federation than it had been in the Holy Empire. The arrogance 
of the petty crowns, stimulated by the enjoyment of sovereignty, 
effected in Vienna a distribution of votes which greatly exceeded 
all the enormities of the ancient imperial law, and which now 
in its turn helped this arrogance to rise to the degree of insanity. 
A certain preference for the smaller members of the federation 
lies in the nature of any federal constitution. But it went far 
beyond the measure of permissible injustice that in the full 
assembly of the Bundestag, seven great states, Austria, the five 
kingdoms, and Baden, which together contained more than five- 
sixths of the whole German people, should possess a minority of 
twenty-seven votes, as against forty-two votes possessed by the 
remaining sixth. This amounted to an open invitation to the 
great states to circumvent the federal decrees, or else to browbeat 
their smaller comrades. And then, in addition, came that gift 
of the crown of Saxony, the unanimity requisite for all important 
decisions — a prescription which in the Holy Empire had applied 
only to religious questions and to jura singulorum. Now Reuss 
of the younger line could prohibit all development of the Federa- 
tion. But further such development would be made altogether 
impossible by the general adoption of a representative system. 
For if the Federation were to have any kind of effective Hfe it 
must first attempt to limit the military authority and to control 
the foreign policy of the individual states ; but these were the only 
sovereign rights which, after the introduction of the diets, would 
still remain undiminished to the petty princes, and a voluntary 
renunciation on their part of these rights was altogether 
impossible to expect. 

This many-headed federal assembly, without a leader, 
possessed neither legal nor moral responsibility. It consisted 


History of Germany 

of delegates, bound strictly to their instructions, and therefore 
able to shuffle off all blame from themselves upon their principals ; 
whilst, on the other hand, the petty crowns learned all too soon 
how to take refuge behind the Bundestag against the anger of 
pubUc opinion. Germany's internal politics became a struggle 
in the air ; no one knew any longer where he was to seek his true 
opponent. The demoralising influence of such inveracity showed 
itself very speedily ahke at the courts and among the people ; 
cowardly anxiety on the one side ; cuckoo-cloudland dreams 
of obscure bitterness upon the other. The hopeless confusion 
became all the more intolerable because a severe struggle between 
the federation and its members was impossible to avoid, for the 
central authority of the Federation was autocratic, was simply an 
organ of the princes, whereas in the individual states the power 
of the Landtags soon became operative. 

The nation accepted the unhappy piece of work with sinister 
coldness. Whoever expressed any opinion at all about the matter 
showed savage anger. The few articles concerning popular 
rights, for which public opinion was for the most part prepared, 
contained such empty and windy promises, that even this good- 
natured nation was forced to begin to believe in the ill-will of its 
rulers. How strangely, beside the indefinite phrases about free- 
dom of the press, freedom of trade, and diets, reads the precise 
enumeration of the privileges of the mediatised and of the post- 
office monopolies of Thum and Taxis. Most lamentable of all, 
the federal act was not a constitution, but contained merely the 
elements so far formulated of a future federal law. Four years 
later, the honourable-minded Gagem wrote, not without repent- 
ance, to a conservative friend : " You speak of the maintenance 
of what exists. Vainly do I seek durability. I see a federal act 
which we first undertook to develop at Vienna." 

In the territorial negotiations, the Prussian statesmen, thanks 
to the king's firmness, had attained at least a half-measure of 
success. In the federal negotiations, they were completely van- 
quished ; they had not carried into effect a single part of their 
intentions. But the escutcheon of Prussian honour had remained 
untarnished. Tlie attitude of the state which had saved us from 
the foreigner, served also in Vienna to shame all other Germans — 
if there was indeed any place for shame amid so savage a struggle 
of interests. Tenaciously and straightforwardly, and more con- 
sistently than Stein, had Hardenbcrg and Humboldt held fast 
to a definite plan, yielding only step by step in face of the united 


The Congress of Vienna 

resistance of almost the whole of Germany. This plan of theirs 
was certainly affected by the general political obscurity of the 
epoch, but was at any rate more honourable and reasonable than 
were all the other proposals put forward in Vienna. It was not 
their fault that the form of their proposals underwent continual 
changes, for this was the inevitable outcome of the pressure of a 
hopeless struggle against opponents who could never be con- 
vinced by a word, but only by a blow. The one fault of both 
was their unsuspecting confidence in the false friends Austria and 
Hanover. But even a perfect statesman, who could have remained 
absolutely free from such weaknesses, would not have been able 
to conquer in this struggle. The whole course of German destiny 
during recent years had led inevitably to the tragical and yet 
necessary consequence that after the fall of Napoleon the con- 
figuration of the German state came to be decided, not by 
Napoleon's valiant enemy Prussia, but by his hesitating opponent 
Austria, and by his allies the Rhenish Confederates. 

The czar manifested discontent at the lamentable issue, and 
not even Gentz had expected so ridiculous a botch. None the 
less, the new order of German affairs possessed three momentous 
advantages. The historical effects of the princes' revolution 
of 1803 remained undisturbed, the grotesque theocratic system 
was not restored. New Germany breathed the healthy air of a 
temporal state. Again, although the federal constitution did not 
impose an absolute barrier to the origination of a new Confedera- 
tion of the Rhine, it rendered this far more difficult ; for this 
reason alone, as Hardenberg and Humboldt frequently declared, 
did Prussia's statesmen adopt a work as to whose defects they 
were under no illusion. Prussia joined the Federation in order to 
prevent the middle-sized states from repeating their treasons, 
whereas these states regarded the federal constitution merely as a 
bulwark against Prussian ambition. Finally, the Germanic Federa- 
tion was so loosely organised and so feeble that neither in its 
internal nor in its external development could it appreciably 
disturb the state of Frederick. As soon as Prussia had thought 
the matter over, the shadowy federal constitution would be seen 
to offer a thousand ways and means of attaching the petty states 
to herself by separate alliances, and of showing them that in 
actual practice Austria did nothing for Germany, while Prussia 
alone was in a position to do justice to the longings of the nation 
and to the rightly understood interests of the petty courts. As 
we look back upon the life-history of the Germanic Federation we 


History of Germany 

see that it is upon this that depends its historic renown : it did 
not possess power to prevent the increase in strength of the 
one really living German state, of the state that was destined 
at a later date to destroy that Federation, and to bestow upon our 
unhappy nation a new and worthy order. 





ALTHOUGH it is a matter of daily experience that coming events 
cast their shadows before, it very rarely happens that the heroes 
of a closed chapter in history resume their places upon the 
transformed stage of time. In such a return of past greatness 
there always inheres a wonderful and dream-Uke magic, because 
there is involved a contradiction with the necessary and eternal 
process of historic life. Never has destiny assumed a more 
fantastic form than during the Hundred Days, when the 
men and the passions of an age of war emerged like a train of 
spectres in clear noonday to trouble the life of a new and peace- 
loving generation, and in which the grandiose adventure of the 
Napoleonic emperordom found its appropriate and stormy 
epilogue. On March ist Napoleon with his nine hundred faithful 
followers landed on the coast near Cannes ; on the evening of 
March 20th, the birthday of the king of Rome, his dusty carriage 
drove to the Tuileries through the silent capital, and a crowd 
of veterans drunk with joy greeted the returning hero on the 
portals of the abandoned royal palace. " The emperor has 
appeared and the royal government no longer exists," he wrote 
proudly to the foreign envoys. Never before had the elemental 
forces of genius and of reputation secured so brilliant a triumph ; 
the bloodless victorious progress really seemed, as the Imperator 
assured the princes of Europe, " the work of an irresistible force, 
the unanimous will of a great nation aware of its duties and of its 

Yet this miracle-hke revolution proceeded almost exclusively 
from the army. The old corporals and sergeants who here, as in 
all professional armies, controlled the spirit of the troops, regarded 
with idolatrous worship the image of the democratic hero ; they 
were the apostles of that Napoleonic religion whose titanic legends 



Ik were th< 

History of Germany 

had consoled the proud nation during its defeats. How would 
it have been possible for the fourth regiment of artillery in whose 
ranks Bonaparte had once served as lieutenant to resist the fiery 
appeal of the gros papa, who restored the glorious tricolor and 
the world-subduing eagles, and who dismissed the detested new 
officers belonging to the emigre nobility ? Carried away by the 
dehrium of enthusiasm, overwhelmed by the power of wonderful 
memories, one regiment after another followed the alluring 
example : the times were to return in which the praetorian was 
everything, the civilian nothing. The old guard decorated their 
eagles with flowers, which were not to be removed until the honour 
of the empire had been avenged by brilliant victories over the 
Prussians and other foreigners. But no longer, as once in the 
days of the i8th Brumaire, was the army France. While even 
a portion of the officers, and among them some of the most capable 
of the marshals, like Oudinot and Macdonald, scorned to partici- 
pate in the great perjury, the peaceful middle classes were 
utterly perplexed by the re-emergence of this democratic tyrant, 
whose remarkable and ambiguous character made him at once 
welcome and ominous. The restoration had not effected any 
notable changes in the Napoleonic constitution ; it was 
nourished, as the Bonapartists insisted, upon the " capital of 
authority" which the First Consul had left for his successors. 
The effective machine of the prefectoral administration con- 
tinually extended its operations. The well-meaning king, on the 
other hand, who had been placed in the saddle by the favour of 
the tones, remained altogether estranged from the sentiments 
and customs of the new democratic society. He was surrounded 
by the Artois, the Blacas, the covetous pack of emigres who were 
impatient for the re-establishment of the old nobles' regime. The 
hatred of the people for the Bourbons was dependent not only 
upon the mistakes of the crown, but also, and still more, upon 
the sinister intentions attributed to its supporters. 

Beside those who now crowded round the banner of the 
lilies, the returning Napoleon seemed even to the bourgeois classes 
a national hero, a representative of the idolised ideas of '89. But 
at the same time his name signified war. The instinct of the 
business world immediately recognised that this man would never 
keep the peace, and that the neighbouring powers could never 
allow him to remain at peace. Immediately after his return, 
the advantageous position which Talleyrand's cunning had secured 
for the Bourbon crown in the society of states was once more 


Belle Alliance 

lost ; France stood completely isolated, and before the eyes of a 
world which urgently needed peace there of>ened the gloomy 
prospect of new and interminable warlike storms. Moreover, 
the parliamentary institutions of the Charte constitutionnelle de 
France had quickly taken root. Hardly had the epoch of mili- 
tary glory passed away when, with admirable vitality, the nation 
one more threw itself into the party struggles of political and 
literary life. The country took pleasure in the oratorical arts 
displayed in the representative chamber, in the noisy criticisms 
of the free press. The constitutional doctrine again found 
honourable and convinced advocates. Thousands of persons 
honestly believed that it was the destiny of this liberated nation 
to vitalise parHamentary governnent after the English model with 
the incomparable Napoleonic administrative despotism, and in 
this way to found an exemplary constitutional state ; but the 
realisation of these ideals seemed far more readily possible under 
the weak rule of the Bourbons than under the iron dominion of 
the soldier emperor. Consequently the cultured and possessing 
classes held suspiciously aloof from the Imperator ; in a few 
days the national securities fell to fifty-three. It is true that only 
a few regiments of the south and of the west held firmly to the 
side of the royal house ; even the legitimist rising which broke 
out in La Vendee was devoid of danger, since it proceeded from 
the nobles rather than from the peasants. Napoleon's return 
was premature ; a few years later, when the memory of the 
horrors of the war-time had begun to fade, and when the hatred 
felt for the emigres had become more powerful, the Imperator 
might perhaps have succeeded. In the existing situation of 
affairs, the majority of the nation remained sceptical, anxious, 
perplexed. It was only to the peasants in the eastern provinces, 
who have always been of a warlike disposition, and to the work- 
men of some of the larger towns, that the crowned plebeian was 
welcome. In the suburbs of Paris a Jacobin federation was 
formed, but the memories which were revived in this body 
had little in common with the Caesarism of which the army 
ade a cult. 

Napoleon speedily noticed how greatly the country had 
changed. " The Bourbons," he said savagely, " have spoiled 
France for me." In order to win over the middle classes he had 
to coquet with liberal ideas. In cleverly composed manifestos 

nhe represented himself as the chosen of the people, laying stress 
upon the popular character of the empire, which had disciplined 




History of Germany 

democracy, perfected equality, and paved the way for libert:y. 
But promises no longer sufficed. He found himself compelled to 
constitute a cabinet out of men of the Revolution and to enlarge 
the constitution of the empire by a supplementary act, which 
guaranteed to the nation an electoral popular assembly, freedom of 
the press, the right of petition, and even the restriction of military 
jurisdiction. In this way he was forced to tie his own hands at 
a moment when nothing but an absolute dictatorship could compel 
the nation, greatly desirous of peace, to make a strong military 
effort. He appeared upon the Champ de Mars to gratify the 
Parisian love of spectacles by a great popular military display, 
and to make public profession of his democratic faith. " As 
Emperor, as First Consul, and as soldier, I owe everything to the 
people ! " His favourite daughter Hortense and her little son 
Louis attended the display ; but Marie Louise did not return to 
the Tuileries, for the loyalty of the Austrian woman was given to 
the child of fortune, not to the spouse. 

The Imperator gradually came to realise that he was now only 
the leader of a great gang of military mutineers, and no longer 
the universally dreaded chief of the state. He was overwhelmed 
with shame and rage when he was forced to show himself at 
the window in response to the homage of the working-class 
Jacobins. From time to time he even asked himself whether 
he should not straightway don the red cap, take over the leadership 
of the revolutionary parties, dissolve the National Guard of the 
Parisian bourgeoisie, and constitute in place thereof a popular 
army composed of the federated manual workers. But his 
detestation of the Jacobins prevailed. Napoleon could not lay 
aside his old despotic habits ; he issued Hsts of proscribed 
persons ; and he re-established a twofold secret police, whose 
agents mutually watched one another. Notwithstanding the 
supplementary act, notwithstanding his Hberal asseverations, 
notwithstanding his coldness towards the Jacobins, he did not 
succeed in acquiring the confidence of the bourgeoisie. The 
credulous doctrinaire Benjamin Constant did, indeed, take the 
side of the returned despot, and the organ of the constitutionalists, 
the Censeur of Dunoyer, extolled the supplementary act as the 
perfection of French liberty — a wonderful self-deception which 
for decades to come was to be the watchword of the opposition. 
But the of the constitutionalists remained obstinately mis- 
trustful. In secret, they put their hopes on the cunning Louis 
Philippe of Orleans, who had for long been busily though quietly 


Belle Alliance 

weaving nets to secure the citizen crown of France. When the 
deputies assembled in June, one of Napoleon's opponents, 
Lanjuinais, former president of the Convention, was elected presi- 
dent ; the revolutionary leaders opposed the emperor with 
relentless violence. 

The worst of all was that Napoleon, in order to allay the 
bourgeois fear of war, had to display a hypocritical confidence in 
the maintenance of peace. At the moment, he said, nothing was 
further from his mind than the desire for war. It was not until 
the gyande armee of the empire had been re-established, that the 
struggle for the inaUenable ancient boundaries was to recommence. 
He repeatedly assured the European courts that nothing had been 
changed in France, that he renounced all designs of warHke 
aggrandisement, and that he now recognised one struggle only, 
the sacred struggle for the happiness of the nations. No one 
believed him. Unceasingly Old Europe pursued preparations 
for the annihilation of the usurper, and yet for a time he had to 
maintain the semblance that his empire was a realm of peace. 
Not for three weeks did he dare to command an increase in the 
army. On his arrival this had consisted of 115,000 men, 
and by the beginning of June it had enlarged only to 
198,000 men. The same sense of insecurity also forced him to 
adopt an extremely venturesome plan of campaign. According 
to the experiences of the previous year, a vigorous defensive war 
in the interior of France might perhaps have been not altogether 
impossible ; but since the usurper could neither count upon a mass 
rising in his favour, nor yet dared to expose himself to the danger 
of a defeat upon French soil, he was constrained to undertake 
an attack upon his neighbours, and for this desperate venture had 
at his disposal only 128,000 men. The rest of the forces were 
distributed along the frontiers, this being a completely useless 
dispersal of military power, but the suspicions of the public would 
now allow the Imperator to leave any portion of French soil 
entirely undefended. Not until war was unavoidable did Napoleon 
drop the peaceful mask, displaying once more the ambitious ideas 
of the old imperial policy. His war minister Davoust had to 
summon to the colours all the old soldiers from the left bank of 
the Rhine. In his address to the army, the Imperator spoke as 
old, as the protector of German particularism, exhorting to 
he struggle against the insatiable coalition which was already 
engaged^ in swallowing the petty German states. A proclama- 

non discovered in Napoleon's carriage on the battle-field of Belle 

History of Germany 

Alliance announced to the Belgians and to the Rhinelanders the 
joyful tidings that they were worthy to be Frenchmen ! 

Since this Caesar was once more at the head of his praetorians, 
it was inevitable that the old struggle between world dominion 
and national freedom should break out once more. In accordance 
with the letter of international law, Napoleon's taking up of arms 
was indeed nothing more than a legitimate war of conquest of the 
sovereign prince of Elba against the most Christian king. Vainly 
did Gentz, in the columns of the Oesterreichischer Beobachier, 
endeavour by the use of artificial sophisms to interpret away this 
incontestable legal right. But of what use to the despot were 
forms of international law, to the man who all his life had played 
with loyalty and faith, who had trodden under foot every sacred 
right of the society of nations ? To the miUions in Germany, 
Russia, and England, the returning tyrant did not appear to be 
a prince making war, but simply a blood-stained criminal whose 
reckless breach of his word imperilled all the blessings of 
peace, so recently and so laboriously won. A cry of anger rang 
through Prussia. The old enemy was once more upon the 
spot ; like a hungry wolf he had broken into the peaceful 
fold of the liberated nations ; who could doubt that the German 
sword must once more hurl him down from his usurped throne ? 
This vaUant nation which had suffered such unspeakable woes 
from the blows of the tyrant neither could, nor would, see any- 
thing of the moving and elevating incidents which embellished 
the Imperator's return, nor could it make allowances for the 
political confusion which explained the hopeless embarrassment 
of the French nation. To the Prussians, the French were simply 
a mob of traitors, the French army was composed of soldiers 
false to their oaths, who were conspiring with their old robber- 
chieftain to undertake fresh campaigns of plunder. On this 
occasion, too, a sense of happy pride was joined to a deadly 
hatred. Old Blucher spoke once more from the heart to his 
Prussians, when at the first news he joyfully exclaimed : " That 
is the best luck of all for us ; now the army can clear up the 
mess made by the diplomats." It was only in the course of 
the congress, and through Talleyrand's hostile machinations, 
that the mass of the patriots of the north had come clearly to 
understand what a flabby and feeble thing had been the peace 
of Paris, and how little was our western frontier secured. As 
soon as the prospect of a new war opened, the press, headed by 
the Rheinische Merkur, immediately declared that the time had at 


Belle Alliance 

length arrived to draw the teeth of the GalUc beast of prey. In 
a thousand tones, far more loudly and more definitely than the 
year before, was the demand voiced : " Restore the plunder, 
restore Alsace and Lorraine ! " 

At the courts, too, there was not a moment's hesitation 
in recognising that the destruction of the peace of Paris could not 
be tolerated. Already on March 8th Stein resolved upon the 
outlawry of the disturber of the peace. On March 13th the eight 
powers which had signed the treaty of peace assembled and deter- 
mined upon a public declaration announcing to the nations of 
Europe that Napoleon Bonaparte had placed himself outside 
civil and political rights and must be outlawed as an enemy and 
disturber of the peace of the world. The Bonapartists raised 
an outcry regarding this unprecedented, this cannibal resolution ; 
yet it merely expressed what was imperiously demanded by the 
aroused feelings of all Germans and Russians, and by the great 
majority of the EngUsh nation. On March 25th the four allies 
of Chaumont renewed their former league, offered their support to 
the king of France and to any other land which might be attacked 
by Bonaparte, invited all the powers of Europe to join them, 
and pledged themselves not to lay down arms until Bonaparte 
was no longer in a position to excite new disturbances and again 
to seize the reins of power in France. The declaration of the 
eight did not directly exclude the possibility of a change in the 
French frontiers, for it expressly reserved for the powers the 
right to complete and strengthen the decisions of the treaty of 
Paris. But, like the war alUance of March 25th, it rested upon a 
momentous error of fact, upon the assumption that the Bourbons 
were maintaining themselves at least in some part of France, 
and that the allied armies would act as accessory troops coming 
to the assistance of the royal army. 

A few days later, information reached Vienna that King Louis 
had had to evacuate his country down to the last village. The 
legitimate ruler was domiciled in Ghent as a prince without 
country, and was now almost entirely under the influence of the 
vengeance-breathing emigres ; while the outlawed disturber of 
the public peace, writing peaceful letters to his crowned 
» brothers, informed them of the bloodless subdual of France, and 
B offered to recognise the treaty of Paris immediately. The 
H situation was altered in a moment, and the rancorous whigs in 
B parliament did not hesitate to take advantage of the fact. 
B Whitbread and Burdett enquired in thunderous speeches whether 


History of Germany 

England was to bleed again in order to force upon a free people 
a government, a dynasty, whose hopeless weakness had been so 
painfully displayed. 

The tory government felt it necessary to appease the opposi- 
tion, and therefore announced in Vienna that although the 
prince regent did indeed approve the treaty of March 25th, and 
would do all in his power to fight against Bonaparte, still he could 
not pledge himself to impose upon the French any definite 
government. On May 9th, Austria, Prussia, and Russia recognised 
that this interpretation of the treaty was well grounded, and also 
reserved a free hand for themselves in respect of the future govern- 
ment of France. There followed in the committee of the eight 
powers a tedious deliberation upon the question whether, in view 
of the actual success of Bonaparte and of his peaceful despatches, 
a new declaration were not desirable. Talleyrand had the audacity 
to lay before the alhes a proposal for a manifesto in which they 
should modestly declare that Europe was fighting just as much 
for France as for her own safety, and would lay down arms 
immediately after the dethronement of Bonaparte. ^ But no one 
would any longer accede to such suggestions. The commission 
appointed to consider the question decided that the usurper's 
assurances were not worthy of belief ; in extremely moderate 
language it maintained that the right of a nation to 
change its government was not unrestricted, but that it was 
within the competence of neighbouring states to take steps to 
prevent a misuse of this right which might involve danger to 
them all ; it recalled the universally known fact that the 
allies had granted conquered France mild terms of peace only 
upon the express condition that the Corsican disturber of the 
peace should be dethroned ; and it declared aptly and incisively 
that the formal assent of the French nation to Bonaparte's 
reacccssion to the throne would be equivalent to a declaration 
of war against Europe. This formal assent to the usurper's coup 
d'ilat had in fact occurred almost at the same moment in which 
the commission's report was, on May 12th, laid before the 
Committee of Eight. The Napoleonic supplementary act was 
submitted to the nation for general approval ; more ^than one 
and a quarter million voters expressed tliis approval, barely five 
thousand dared to vote against j^Napolcon's reinstatement, the 
great majority held aloof, letting^matters take their own course. 
Thus the French nation had unquestionably recognised the 

* G>rrcspondance inMito do Talleyrand ct dc Louis XVlll, Pari», 1881, p. 383. 


Belle Alliance 

^_^ lovi: 

dynastic revolution, and for the eight powers the necessity was 
obvious, in accordance with the words of their commission, to 
drop the earher declaration which had been directed against the 
person of Bonaparte alone, and to declare war against the state 
of France, as it had now actually undergone transformation. 
But this conclusion, the only logical one, was not drawn, for the 
intentions of the allied powers were extremely divergent. 

The unctuous assurance of the tories that England did not 
desire to force any particular government upon France, was not 
honourably meant, but was simply a move in the parliamentary 
game. There had been no change in the obstinately legitimist 
sentiments of the tory cabinet ; in the eyes of that cabinet, the 
landless king was, and remained, the legitimate ruler of France, 
and it was the obvious duty of Europe to restore the king to the 
throne of his fathers by means of a royalist crusade, so that 
England, as the high-minded protector of the grateful Bourbon, 
could secure the dominant influence in the Tuileries. In this 
sense WeUington continually repeated : " France has no enemies ; 
this war is a war of Europe, including France, against Bonaparte 
and his army." Consequently no one could make any claims 
for territory against France. Filled with moral indignation, com- 
fortably patting their well-filled pockets, the tories spoke about 
Prussian poverty and greed ; their envy of Germany was so 
detestably plain that even the good-natured Prussian patriots 
at length came clearly to understand the true character of 
British commercial policy, and many of those who for years had 
been ardent admirers of English magnanimity now expressed 
an adverse judgment. But however restricted, hypocritical, and 
narrow-minded the policy of the tories might appear, they alone 
among all the allies knew precisely what they wanted and followed 
their aims with tenacious obstinacy. 

In the Hofburg there was no lack of fanatical legitimists to 
blow the corno inglese. To Adam Miiller it seemed absolutely 
incontestable that Louis XVIII had been reigning for four-and- 
twenty years, and that Bonaparte was only a rebel ; if this were 
not so, the divine right of kings would be denied and " the 
ridiculous claim of the nations to have a will of their own would 
receive recognition ! " Metternich's views were more sober. 
He cherished no preference for the Bourbons, and was prepared 
to act as circumstances might dictate ; but since his peace- 
loving nature recoiled from every dubious innovation, and since 
the treaties of Paris and Vienna seemed to him an inviolable 


History of Germany 

structure of exquisite diplomatic wisdom, the tories might hope 
that they would be able gradually to bring over their Austrian 
friend to their own point of view. Alexander, on the other hand, 
and Frederick William, could not forgive the Bourbons the war 
alliance of January 3rd. Among the Prussian generals the view 
was widely diffused that this ungrateful French royal house, 
which was at once weak and faithless, ought not to be restored ; 
the czar spoke with warmth in favour of the liberal-minded duke 
of Orleans. But neither the court of St. Petersburg nor yet that 
of Berlin had hitherto conceived any definite plan for the re-estab- 
lishment of the French throne ; moreover, the two powers were 
by no means in agreement. Whilst the Prussian statesmen were 
from the first working to safeguard the western frontier 
of Germany, the czar had relapsed into a mood of extravagant 
generosity. The true ground of his magnanimity was betrayed 
by him on one occasion when he exclaimed : " Either I shall 
have a share in this cake, or the cake shall not be baked at all ! " 
Russia could gain nothing from this war, and what did he care 
about Germany when he could hope by liberal-mindedness and 
delicacy of feeling to overpower English influence in France ? 
On May 25th he directed his ambassador to write that there 
existed " a French nation whose justified interests must not be 
sacrificed without punishment ; consequently there must neither 
be effected the re-estabhshment of the untenable old order nor 
yet a humiUation of France, a country indispensable to the well- 
being of Europe." 

Owing to the existence of this far-reaching divergency of 
views, an unambiguous declaration of war against France, such 
as was desired by Hardenberg and Humboldt, could not be 
carried through. The coaUtion determined to make no further 
public declaration, and was all the more content with the adop- 
tion of this half-measure because the opportunity for more 
definite resolves might well be offered in the vicissitudes of the 
campaign. All the world anticipated a long and wearisome war ; 
the leadership of the European army had been once more 
entrusted to Schwarzenberg and Langenau. Thus the powers 
opened the struggle in a situation which was extremely obscure 
from the point of view of international law. They had announced 
the struggle against " Buonaparte " (for so they continued to 
name the Imperator), and had subsequently declared that they 
did not 'pursue the aim of re-establishing the Bourbons. Unques- 
tionably they were in a state of war against France, since inter- 


Belle Alliance 

national law recognises war only as between states ; whether 
they regarded themselves as enemies of France was extremely 
doubtful, in face of their own contradictory declarations. More- 
over, the proclamation to the French which Schwarzenberg 
issued when the army invaded France was extremely indefinite. 
With considerable difficulty Gagem had secured that from the 
sentence, " Europe desires peace," at least the dangerous con- 
clusion, " and nothing but peace," should be excised. 

This legal obscurity at the op>ening of the war was not, 
indeed, solely responsible for the unfortunate issue of the peace 
negotiations, for the decision in this matter was determined by 
the united resistance opposed by the rest of Europe to the 
German demands ; but it unquestionably rendered the position of 
the German negotiators at the peace congress far more difficult. 
Suffice it to say that gradually all the powers of the second rank 
joined this ambiguous alliance against Bonaparte ; a foolish and 
premature taking up of arms on the part of Murat in Italy, which 
was speedily quelled, strengthened the courts in the conviction 
that any negotiation with Bonapartism was impossible. Ger- 
many appeared, even at the beginning of the great war, com- 
pletely united, an experience which had been unknown for three 
centuries. No one any longer ventured upon open treason, 
although the hostile sentiments of the courts of Munich and 
Stuttgart were manifested once again in a thousand disputes 
about commissariat. The nation was to learn painfully enough that 
harmony of views is not true unity. Since at the moment when 
war had been declared the Germanic Federation was not yet in 
existence, the German states could join the coalition only as 
isolated individuals ; they did not receive any voice in the 
councils of the great powers, and immediately perceived how 
valueless was that right of independent diplomatic representa- 
tion which they had regarded as the finest ornament of their 

In view of the enormous superiority of the fighting forces 
of the allies, the prompt opening of the campaign offered a sure 
prospect of success ; almost all the well-known generals of the 
coalition, Blucher and Gniesenau, Wellington, Toll, and 
Diebitsch, were here fully agreed. " Hesitation," declared 
Blucher, " will serve merely to provide Napoleon with armies 
which we must fight at the cost.^of our own blood." In 
Gneisenau's opinion, on May ist_^three great armies, each com- 
prising 200,000 men, could be ready, on the Upper, the Middle, 


History of Germany 

and the Lower Rhine respectively, for the invasion of France. 
His statesmanlike vision enabled him to foresee what almost all 
the others regarded as impossible, that the Imperator would 
assume the offensive. All the more urgently did he advise the 
allies to take the offensive on their side. If the three armies 
should advance simultaneously on Paris, and if in the meanwhile 
the fourth army, that from Russia, should assemble in their rear. 
Napoleon would not be able to put into the field a force greater 
than that of any one of these armies ; should one of the invading 
armies suffer a mishap through the skill of its opponent, it could 
withdraw to the great reserve army, whilst the other two could 
continue the advance on Paris. Now, as in the previous year, 
Gneisenau indicated the hostile capital as the only possible goal 
of the campaign, whereas even men of courage like Humboldt 
held the timid view that history never repeated itself. Now, 
as before, Gneisenau issued warnings against any dispersal of 
forces. If Napoleon were overthrown, everything else would be 
thereby settled, including the fate of Italy. 

In the Hofburg, on the other hand, the ItaUan theatre of 
war was regarded as so extremely important that even Radetzky 
declared that Austria must choose Switzerland for the central 
field of her operations in order to remain in communication with 
the Italian army. In the Italian peninsula things began to 
ferment. The Milanese were already repenting of the premature 
revolution of the previous year ; they were inclined to murmur 
against the rule of the bastone tedesco. Murat's fantastical 
manifesto, in which he spoke of ItaHan unity, made a certain 
impression ; moreover, the natural enthusiasm on behalf of their 
great countryman, who had once more manifested the miraculous 
ix)wer of the antico senno of Italy, was reawakened. Emperor 
Francis regarded it as necessary to send his brother John to the 
new Lombardo- Venetian kingdom which, six years earlier, had 
first summoned the Italians to freedom. The archduke was not 
lacking in integrity, or in good words, but upon the experienced 
southerners he made an extremely unfavourable impression. 
The court of Vienna felt by no means secure in its Adriatic 
possessions. In addition there was the old preference of the 
Austrian generals, a preference shared also by Knesebeck, for far- 
fetched and roundabout methods ; finally, and above all, there 
was an urgent desire to leave to the allies the dangers of the war 
so that Austria might stand forth with unbroken forces when 
peace should with difficulty be attained. 


Belle Alliance 

As a result of these considerations an astonishing plan of 
campaign was drawn up, in complexity excelling even that 
of 1814. In the Netherlands were to be 210,000 men under 
Blucher and Wellington ; on the Middle Rhine, Barclay de Tolly 
with 150,000 Russians ; on the Upper Rhine and in Switzerland, 
200,000 Austrians ; finally, in Piedmont, an army of 60,000 men. 
Here was a mass of troops which in the end of July was reinforced 
by supports of 170,000 men to reach a total of 800,000, the 
strength of the allies being thus three times as great as that of 
the enemy. Schwarzenberg regarded not Paris but Lyons as the 
immediate aim of operations. Of Napoleon, however, it might 
be anticipated with certainty that he would hurl himself upon 
the nearest foe, either upon the Netherlands army or upon 
that on the Middle Rhine ; thus the Austrian troops were saved 
from the blows of the dreaded enemy. Since according to the 
Austrian plan the Russians were to take their place at once in 
the first rank of the fighters, Schwarzenberg demanded the post- 
ponement of the invasion till June i6th, then till June 27th, and 
finally even till July ist. Although to all the other powers it 
seemed an extremely dubious policy to give their restless enemy 
three months' respite, in a coalition army the procrastinator always 
has the right of it. Austria obstinately maintained that her 
equipments could not be completed earlier, and consequently, 
on April 19th, the great war council of the coalition in Vienna 
adopted in essentials the proposals of the Hofburg, and agreed 
to a postponement of operations. The diplomatic world, and 
Hardenberg as well, believed that the decisive issue would be 
fought out in the centre of the alHed army. It was thought that 
the army in the Netherlands would, like the Silesian army two 
years earlier, play the modest role of an accessory corps ; and 
now, just as then, the course of events was to mock all pro- 

With the deliberations about the plan of campaign was 
associated a lively struggle concerning the distribution of the 
smaller German contingents. The courts of the mid-German 
states all made it a point of honour as petty kings to place their 
troops under foreign command, if it were possible to do so, in 

I preference to Prussian command. Count Miinster considered 
that the hour had come for the realisation of his ancient ideal, 
an English-Hanoverian hegemony in North Germany, and he 
warned his smaller neighbours against joining Prussia. In fact, 
not only the Netherlanders, but also the Hanoverians, the Saxons, 



History of Germany 

ijhe Nassauers, and the Brunswickers, were assigned to Welling- 
ton's English army ; only a small North German Federal army- 
corps, consisting chiefly of men from Electoral Hesse, was placed 
under Prussian command. The South German troops went with 
the Austrians and Russians to the Upper and Middle Rhine, so 
that on this occasion, too, it was impossible for any sentiment 
of national comradeship-in-arms to be generated. 

Napoleon's army was the best that he had ever led into the 
field. The backbone of his regiments consisted of the veterans 
who had returned from the military prisons and fortresses in 
Germany. The common man looked up with idolatrous respect 
to the petit caporal ; never before had the rank and file 
been so thoroughly permeated with praetorian pride and pas- 
sionate lust for battle. But they had little confidence in their 
generals, for a portion of the marshals had remained loyal to the 
Bourbons ; and if fortune should turn her back upon the 
Imperator, little moral power of resistance was to be expected 
from these valiant grey-beards, who had all been false to their 
oath to the flag and who had the worst to fear from the Bourbons. 

How different was the feeling in the Prussian army ! When 
in a vigorous appeal to his Prussians the king said : " Europe 
cannot tolerate the man who now occupies the French throne, 
the man who plainly announces that world-dominion is the aim 
of his ever-renewed wars," he obtained everywhere a ready 
response from his loyal people. Now, as two years before, the 
young men hastened to take up arms. The Landsturm and the 
detachment of the volunteer yagers were re-established ; and now, 
as formerly, the fighters were inspired with the confident resolve 
that this holy war should not end in any other way than that 
of a complete victory. Prussia, still altogether exhausted by 
the colossal efforts of recent years, again placed 250,000 men 
with the colours ; even the smaller North German neighbours 
showed, on this occasion, a lively zeal, sending 70,000 men. It 
is true that the national army could not be compared with the 
enemy in warlike experience and steadiness. At the moment 
when the unexpected call to arms was sounded, the army was in 
a dangerous state of transition. The Army Law and the acquire- 
ments of new territory had made it necessary to remodel a 
considerable (proportion of the forces ; even in the Netherlands 
theatre of war individual battalions had to be separated from 
their old regiments. The whole of the cavalry was reconstructed, 
and the artillery was in need of men ; for his 304 guns, Blucher 


Belle Alliance 

had only 5,303 men ; in one army-corps there were only eleven 
men per gun, whereas according to the regulations, there should 
have been thirty. The majority of the troops of the 1 ne, which 
until the end of the previous year had still remained on the 
Rhine, had shortly before been sent back by the minister of war 
to the eastern provinces, partly because he wished to disburden 
the heavily pressed Rhinelanders of the cost of billeting, and 
partly because he was afraid of a war with Austria. When now 
the storm suddenly broke out in the west, and the king of the 
Netherlands urgently begged for immediate aid, it was necessary 
to despatch to the theatre of war whatever came first to hand. 
Half of the 116,000 men who were got together in Belgium 
belonged to the Landwehr, and of these a considerable propor- 
tion, the Landwehr from the Elbe, was composed of troops from 
the new province which had formerly belonged to Westphalia ; 
these were men who had to get accustomed to Prussian service, 
and many of them had quite recently fought in Napoleon's army. 

In March, the king bestowed the supreme command of the 
field army upon his grey-headed field-marshal ; and Gneisenau, 
too, resumed the difficult confidential position at Blucher's side. 
In order to obviate the recurrence of disputes between the leaders, 
the command of the first three army-corps which were to op>en 
the Belgian campaign was entrusted to the generals Zieten, 
Borstell, and Thielmann, respectively, all three of them ranking 
in the service as junior to Gneisenau. Biilow commanded the 
fourth corps, which was to serve as a reserve, so that the head- 
strong man did not come too frequently in contact with his 
opponent Gneisenau. The North German Federal army-corps, 
which assembled on the German Lower Rhine, in the rear of 
Blucher's army, was placed under the command of Kleist, whose 
gentle and restrained nature rendered him especially suitable for 
the diplomatic tasks of a federal mihtary commander. Finally, 
York and Tauentzien received the command of the two army- 
1 1 corps in the eastern provinces. General Grolman entered Blucher's 

i\ headquarters staff as quartermaster-general, and appointed four 
of the most capable officers, Reiche, Aster, Clausewitz, and 
Valentini, as chiefs of staff in the Belgian army. The hero of 

IWartenberg was profoundly vexed ; he several times demanded 
his dismissal, and in this distribution of roles could see nothing 
more than the partisan hatred of the " Tugendbund." All the 
military opponents of the reform party shared the views of York, 
complaining that with the appointment of Boyen and Grolman 

History of Germany 

visionaries and demagogues gained control of the army. 
At court there recommenced malicious intrigues of secret sus- 
picion against the Silesian headquarters staff. In the officers' 
circles definite assurances were exchanged to the effect that Duke 
Charles of Mecklenburg, who had once more greeted the field- 
marshal upon his departure — greeted him in the name of the 
BerUn garrison — ^had vainly begged for the command of a brigade 
in Blucher's army ; the king's brother-in-law must be shielded 
from the dangerous influence of Gneisenau. General Knesebeck 
even undertook to advise the field-marshal that he should 
voluntarily renounce the supreme command ; but hardly had 
Knesebeck begun to speak cautiously about Blucher's advanced 
age, when the old man burst out into loud laughter, and said, 
" What nonsense you are talking ! " 

This was all that could be done ; who could venture to drive 
the hero of the nation from the position which belonged to him ? 
During the last inactive months he had, indeed, become an infirm 
old man, and at this moment the affectionate father received a 
cruel blow ; his favourite son Francis, a bold and talented cavalry 
officer, who in the last campaign had been severely wounded in 
the head, became hopelessly insane. But as soon as war was 
determined on, the magnificent old man speedily pulled himself 
together, like a noble charger at the sound of the trumpets, and 
no longer felt the burden of years and sorrow. Once more he had 
foreseen it all : why would not the accursed diplomats believe 
him when he had prophesied to them a year ago that the rascal 
would certainly break out of his cage ? Everywhere on the 
journey the masses thronged round the popular hero. Fresh and 
youthful looking, radiating confidence, he appeared amongst his 
rejoicing troops. How much good it did him to see the new East 
Frisian regiment, composed of the fellow-countrymen of his 
beloved wife, under his command. To the embittered Saxon 
officers he delivered a mighty speech, straight from the fullness 
of his German heart, saying that he knew nothing here of Prussians 
or Saxons, that he knew only of Germans who would and must 
fight for their great fatherland. With such an army, he said, 
he could conquer Tunis, TripoU, and Algiers, if only the sea were 
not in the way. He could hardly await the hour of battle, and, 
certain of victory, he wrote to Heinen, the manager of his estate : 
" The French are before me, gloiy behind, and an explosion will 
come soon 1 " » 

* Biucher to Ilcincn, Lilgc, May 0, 1815. 

Belle Alliance 

He found the army administration in a painful quandary. 
The king of the Netherlands, who had so urgently begged for 
speedy help from the Prussians, now that he knew himself to be in 
safety did nothing whatever for the care of the allied armies in the 
rich country; he knew the contempt which the Prussian office s 
had cherished towards him since the Thuringian campaign ; he 
responded to it by unconcealed dishke, and displayed so much 
ill-will that Gneisenau blamed him, certainly with injustice, on 
account of his French sympathies. Hard cash, of which Well- 
ington had a superfluity, was altogether lacking to the Prussians; 
for a month and a half the army had received no pay. Ribben- 
trop, the admirable commissary-general, was at his wits' end. 
Blucher wrote angrily to the chancellor : " The king of the 
Netherlands is the most disobliging, secretive, and avaricious of 
men." ^ To meet the most urgent needs, he issued on his own 
authority bills of exchange, which were cashed by the merchants 
of Elberfeld on the strength of his great name. Meanwhile he had 
to have his troops provisioned by the peasants, and for this 
reason was compelled to disp)erse his forces between Fleurus, 
Namur, Cinay, and Hannut, farther north of the Meuse and the 
Sambre than was advisable. These troubles did not disturb his 
confidence of victory. At the first glance he recognised the 
internal weakness of the new empire, saying : " The French 
nation is by no means so devoted to Bonaparte as the French news- 
papers declare." With prophetic certainty he declared that the 
decision would be effected upon the Belgian theatre of war. " If we 
bring the war to a happy conclusion," he wrote to the chancellor, 
" all the great lords will be in my debt ; and everything will in fact 
turn out well, for the great power which the over-cautious fellows 
on our side assign to Napoleon in their dreams, is a cobweb of the 
brain. He lacks everything and, above all, he has lost confidence 
in himself and his followers." - 

Blucher was from the first clear as to the demands which, 
after the victory, Germany ought to impose upon France. As 
early as the beginning of May he wrote : "I hope that this war 
will be concluded in such a way that in the future France will no 
longer be so dangerous to Germany. Alsace and Lorraine must 
be surrendered to us." Yet it is a remarkable fact that this same 
Jman, in whom were embodied the national pride and ardour of the 
[North German people, was at the same time a cosmopolitan in the 

* Blucher to Hardenberg, Namur, May 27, 1815. 
^ Blucher to Hardenberg. Namur, June 2, 1815. 

History of Germany 

noblest sense of the word. It will for all time remain a proud 
memory for our nation that the magnanimous German cosmopolitan 
sentiment which had hitherto profited our culture alone, and fo: 
our political life had been merely a curse, was now at length, in 
the most extraordinary circumstances, to prove fruitful also in the 
poUtical sphere, and was to enable Germany's commander-in-chief 
to enter into European politics in the grand style. In Blucher's 
eyes this was a holy war of the fraternal nations of Europe on 
behalf of their common freedom, and nothing seemed to him more 
self-evident than that brother must stand for brother to the last 
drop of blood. With a reckless self-forgetfulness which was 
possible only to German idealism, he declared himself ready to 
devote all the forces of his army to the cause of Europe. Full 
of confidence he came to meet his English comrade-in-arms, and 
loyally assumed that the EngUshman would be animated by like 
sentiments. The blunt and trustworthy soldierly character of the 
English commander pleased him well. " Wellington is obliging- 
ness itself," he wrote with satisfaction ; "he is an extremely 
resolute man, we shall get along very well together." Since, 
notwithstanding his angry demands and proposals, the opening 
of the war was continually postponed by the Viennese strategists, 
he wrote menacingly to the chancellor : "If the command to 
advance is not given, if the disturbances in France increase, I shall 
do what I did in Silesia, and take the matter into my own hands. 
Wellington will certainly join me in this." Gneisenau, prepared, 
like his old friend, for every sacrifice on behalf of the common 
cause, took another view of the Enghshman's character ; he con- 
sidered that from WeUington might be expected the most 
tenacious and vaUant resistance to the enemy, but not any bold 
act of insubordination, nor yet any kind of sacrifice on behalf 
of the allies. Gneisenau's judgment was right, for while in 
Blucher's headquarters staff there prevailed a magnanimous 
enthusiasm on behalf of European freedom, Wellington was an 
Englishman from top to toe, in good things as in bad. 

The six brief days of the Belgian campaign do not merely 
awaken the highest pohtical and human sympathy through the 
restless, powerfully cumulative, and dramatic course of events, 
through the excess of magnificent struggles, passions, and 
changes of fortune which were pressed together within a few hours ; 
they afford also a profound insight into the wonderfully multiform 
and unequal development of the western nations — for in the plains 
of Brabant there were simultaneously in the battle-field three 


Belle Alliance 

fundamentally different epochs of Europ)ean military history. 
Here was the eighteenth century, the mercenary army of old 
England ; there was the epoch of the Revolution, the professional 
soldiery of the democratic tyrant ; there again, finally, was the 
newest age, the Prussian nation in arms. Each one of the three 
armies developed its most characteristic art in a titanic struggle, 
and each was led by a commander appropriate to its character. 
Here were Blucher and Gneisenau, the heroes of the stormy 
national anger ; there was the crowned plebeian ; there again, 
finally, was Wellington, who was at that time extolled by 
Miinster and the high tories as the greatest mihtary commander 
of the century, but who to us of a later age seems the last great 
representative of a completely obsolete art of war. 

WeUington is numbered among those rare men who, without 
creative genius, almost without talent, simply by force of 
character, by the power of will and of self-command, climb to 
the heights of historic fame. Who would ever have prophesied 
a world-wide reputation for this boy who was far from quick of 
comprehension, who was never really young, and who was greatly 
excelled in talent by his brothers Richard and Henry ? Son of 
a high-church tory family which had settled in Ireland as a member 
of the conquering race, and which amid the hostile Celts had 
preserved all the more obstinately the pride of race and caste, 
the good quahties and the bad of the English motherland, he 
had, in accordance with the old-estabUshed custom of Enghsh 
young men of family, rapidly passed through the subordinate 
ranks in the army with the help of money and favour, so that 
when he was only twenty-five years old, he commanded a regi- 
ment in the Revolutionary war. Subsequently in the East 
Indies he learned the art of military leadership under the eyes of 
his brother Richard Wellesley, the brilHant founder of British 
power in the East. Severe to himself and others, unswervingly 
obedient and faithful to duty, just and honourable, cold, trust- 
worthy, and reasonable in all things, he showed himself completely 
competent for the difficult military and poUtical tasks which 
Indian Ufe imposed upon the military commander. How boldly 
the cautious man, who painfully weighed all possibihties before- 
hand, could at the right moment seize the favour of fortune, was 
I shown by the brilliant victory of Assaye, over the sixfold superior 
force of the Hindus, and by the bold cavalry campaign in the 
Mahratta mountains. Having returned to Europe, he took part 
in the celebrated pillaging excursion to Copenhagen, brave and 

History of Germany 

efficient as ever, but at the same time utterly indifferent about 
the tragical fate of the little power thus nefariously attacked — 
for never was son of Britain so completely permeated by the 
EngUsh national view : " My country, right or wrong ! " Sub- 
sequently, having received the supreme command in Portugal, 
always full of a quiet confidence of victory, he dryly declared : 
" I shall hold my ground." Upon this sober head the theatrical 
display of the neo-French military glories made no impression 
whatever ; he never doubted in the overthrow of Napoleon. 
Through the six years of the Peninsular War he trained his mer- 
cenaries to become virtuosi in all the methods of the traditional 
art of war. 

He had no use for innovations or comprehensive improve- 
ments ; he never gave favour for any service, never proposed any 
promotion out of order. Independent generals, men who thought 
for themselves, were inconvenient to him, whereas his more liberal- 
minded brother Richard allowed talented subordinates to do as 
they pleased ; what WelHngton needed was trustworthy and 
able tools, and he found these for himself with a secure knowledge 
of men. His aides-de-camp were for the most part young peers, 
who, mounted upon the best horses in the world, punctually carried 
the commander's orders and obediently avoided having any 
opinions of their own. He knew his own worth and said straight 
out to his friends in the tory cabinet, " You have no one except 
me " ; had himself provided with extraordinary powers, which 
he never misused, but which enabled him to suspend and send 
home any officer at his own discretion. His generals, occupying 
the position assigned to them, could do whatever they thought 
fit during the battle, but the nearest obstacle in front of them was 
a barrier which they must not attempt to pass under pain of court- 
martial. His officers had Httle love for the severe man who never 
thawed into comradely cordiality, who never displayed any sign 
of benevolence or magnanimity, not even when the service would 
in no way have suffered had he done so. The piercing glance of 
the cold eyes, the proud features with the aquiline nose and the 
tightly closed, immobile mouth, the sharply commanding tones 
of the voice, forbade any confidential approach. But all obeyed 
him, all were proud if they could satisfy this man who was so 
hard to please ; not even in private conversation did the officers 
venture to criticise or discuss the commander's measures. 
They followed Wellington's commands blindly, as if these com- 
mands had been unsearchable decrees of fate ; seldom did he 


Belle Alliance 

speak to them, and when he did so he communicated his inten- 
tions in slow, cumbrous, and inelegant language, but definitely 
and clearly. 

So absolute a dependence was possible only in the small 
armies of the old time. In fact, Wellington found himself most 
at his ease when, like the lansquenet leaders of the sixteenth 
century, such as Frundsberg, Emser, and Leyva, he was himself 
the personal centre of the army, when his regiments were 
assembled round him in close array, and when he could practically 
see them all at once. Far beneath the officers of rank who had 
gained their commissions by purchase, separated from them by 
an impassable gulf, were the rude masses of the rank and file, 
" the scum of the English nation" as Welhngton himself phrased 
it. These hirehngs were held together by abundant pay and 
good diet, with the aid of a suitable use of the cat. It was 
wonderful what these athletic bodies could effect with the courage 
of the old English boxers ; it was wonderful what muscular 
energy and sta3dng-power they could display when the drill- 
sergeant had had them under his thumb for a few years ; 
irresistible was the bayonet attack of the giants of the guard, 
irresistible the mighty charge of the heavy dragoons upon their 
grey chargers. But woe to the town which was taken by storm 
by these troops, as was the unhappy Badajoz ; in the deUrium 
of victory, the cat-o'-nine-tails lost its terrors, the bonds of 
discipline were rent asunder, and lust of murder, greed for 
plunder, all bestial passions, were unchained. Thus the army 
resembled a great piece of clockwork, operating with the utmost 
precision, and yet it was something more than a machine, for 
in the officers' corps there persisted the knightly breeding and 
the national pride of the English nobility ; and the brutal rankers, 
after so many brilliant successes on the part of their uncon- 
quered commander, were wholly devoted to him, and followed 
his glorious banner with absolute confidence. 

In Spain, Wellington economised his troops with extreme 
circumspection, venturing a bold attack only at considerable 
intervals when there was every prospect of success, but never 
staking the existence of his army. He had never encountered 
the Imperator upon the field of battle ; Napoleon's grandiose 
manner of making war, forcing victory by the use of colossal, 

I massive blows, remained unknown to him. Quite immoved, 
he continued the traditional cautious art of warfare which had 
proved so successful in the unusual circimistances of the Spanish 

History of Germany 

theatre of war, regarding it as the only right method. He looked 
down upon the national army with all the contempt of the pro- 
fessional soldier ; to him such armies were no better than the 
Spanish guerrillas which had so often proved useless upon the 
battle-field, and never would he admit that the success of the 
peninsular campaign would after all have been impossible 
without the fanaticism of these undisciplined bands, which, 
operating in the rear of their enemies, wearied and weakened 
these by the terrors of petty warfare. " Enthusiasm," he 
wrote, in his clumsy manner, to Castlereagh, "is in fact no help 
in bringing anything to pass, and is only an excuse for the 
disorder with which everything is done, and for the lack of 
discipUne and obedience in armies." These military views were 
inspired simultaneously by the anti-revolutionary sentiment 
of the high tory. In later years, as soon as his secure soldier's 
glance enabled him to recognise the absolute necessity for reform, 
WelUngton ventured on several occasions to separate himself 
from his political friends, and, undisturbed by the anger of his 
party, to complete with a high hand what he had himself 
hitherto resisted as a dangerous innovation. In old age, 
crowned with fame, he stood high enough to Uve only for wider 
issues, to follow only the voice of serene patriotism. He said 
once : "I would willingly give my life if thereby I could save 
my country from a month's civil war." In the year 1815, he 
was still a conservative partisan through and through ; the 
world of war of those days appeared to him simply a struggle of 
legitimate authority against the Revolution. 

He regarded half with suspicion and half with contempt 
the national passions which were surging through the nations 
of the Continent. He had passed the greater part of his life 
among the Irish, the Hindus, the Spaniards, and the Portuguese ; 
his experiences had convinced him that no other nation could be 
compared even distantly with the English. The old English 
sin of under-estimation of foreigners was, in this dry and 
unamiable hero, displayed in so injurious and coldly arrogant 
a form that even the Spaniards, who owed him so much, 
detested him cordially. Like his friend Castlereagh, he remained 
of the opinion that parliamentary freedom must be an exclusive 
possession of the favoured English stock, and that it was unsuit- 
able for the immaturity of the continentals. Just as previously 
in India and in Spain he had combined the activities of the 
statesman with those of the soldier, so in Paris and Vienna after 


Belle Alliance 

the peace he acted as envoy, and was taken by the ministers so 
deeply into their confidence that he was regarded as practically 
a member of the cabinet. He shared the mistrust of the tories 
for the rising powers of Prussia and Russia ; he was far more 
intimately acquainted with the secrets of the cabinets than was 
Blucher's headquarters staff, and from the first took over his 
command with a fixed, clear, and carefully thought-out political 
design, with the intention, that is to say, of restoring the legiti- 
mate king to the palace of his ancestors. 

Among the 94,000 men of his army, 32,000, approximately 
one-third, were English ; 37,000 were Germans ; and 25,000 
were Netherlanders. Of the Germans, it was only the famous 
regiments of the German legion, numbering about 7,000 men, 
which were as experienced in war as the well-drilled English 
veterans, the rank and file, in their case, being less rough than 
the EngUsh, whilst the officers, after the German manner, were 
more highly cultured ; the black troop of the duke of Brunswick 
also consisted for the most part of well-trained soldiers. On the 
other hand, among the Hanoverians and Nassauers the troops 
were for the most part raw, and the same was the case in the 
newly-formed Netherland regiments ; no trust at all could be 
placed in the Belgians, whose sentiments were French. Wellington 
had little confidence in this motley army, and endeavoured to 
give it a greater moral force by stiffening the young troops with 
detachments from the veteran forces. Nor had he much esteem for 
the warlike value of the Prussian army. From time to time, indeed, 
Blucher's powerful personality, the lofty spiritual impulses which 
were expressed by the words and glances of the old German, 
charmed even the sober Englishman ; on one occasion, looking 
after Blucher riding away, Wellington said, with unwonted 
warmth : " What a fine old boy he is." But the " republican 
spirit " of this national army seemed to him sinister. The 
passionate national pride and the impulse to activity of the 
Prussian army had now become a matter for suspicion to all 
the courts ; at this time even the czar was of opinion that he 
would some day find it necessary to protect his Prussian friend 
against the latter's own army. 

I Although Wellington, like most of his countrymen, was 
secretly of opinion that the overthrow of the world-empire had 
really been effected by the Spanish war, he was not without 
anxiety at the prospect of his first personal encounter with 
Napoleon. He would not and dared not expose himself to the 

History of Germany 

danger of a defeat ; for how could England effect the restoration 
of the Bourbons, undesired by the other courts, if his little army 
were beaten. Consequently he went to work with extreme 
caution. Since the council of war in Vienna had resolved to 
postpone the struggle, the English commander, in accordance 
with his custom, yielded unquestioning obedience, and prepared 
for a cautious defence. Whilst Blucher was compelled by com- 
missariat difficulties to distribute his army through a wide 
region north-west of the Sambre (though still near enough to 
be able, in case of need, to collect his army with extreme 
punctuaHty within four-and- twenty hours), Wellington need- 
lessly and intentionally distributed his forces throughout an 
even wider area. Being ignorant of Napoleon's character and 
methods of warfare, he assumed that the French would simul- 
taneously enter Belgium at different places and in several 
columns ; instead of massing his army near the Prussians, he 
distributed it upon the wide line from Quatre Bras westward to 
the vicinity of Ghent ; whilst, after his strictly methodical 
manner, he retained his reserves at Brussels, so that he could 
send support to any threatened point, as circumstances might 
dictate. He believed that in this way he was prepared for any 
possible attack, that he could safeguard communications with 
England by way of Antwerp and Ostend, and that at the same 
time he could secure against surprise his proteges, the court of 
the fugitive king in Ghent and the httle force of the Bourbon 
household troops at Alost. This widely extended distribution 
of his forces, however, hindered rapid co-operation with Blucher ; 
it remained possible that Napoleon, being superior in strength 
to each individual section of the allies, might suddenly advance 
between the two armies, and might defeat the Prussians, who 
stood nearest to him, before Wellington could hasten to their 

Shortly before the swords were actually drawn from the 
scabbards the German army suffered a new disaster. Not even 
this war, the first which the Germans had undertaken in com- 
plete harmony, was to begin without the flames of the old, fierce 
fratricidal hatred again springing to life. The unhappy Saxon 
negotiations had a tragic sequel in Belgium. As soon as the great 
powers had come to an agreement about the fate of Saxony, they 
determined to allow the imprisoned king to approach near to 
Vienna, so that he might accept the arrangement that had been 


Belle Alliance 

made. The Prussian government learned from Dresden that 
the Saxon high nobihty desired to take advantage of the passage 
of their tribal prince to make a noisy demonstration ; it was 
informed also by the minister in Berlin that Frederick Augustus 
was determined to do everything he could in Vienna to secure a 
simple repudiation of the arrangement, and to begin the negotia- 
tions all over again. ^ Hardenberg immediately took his 
measures. The prisoner, who started on February 22nd upon the 
journey to Pressburg, had on his way to pass through Silesia. On 
the Austrian frontier he was received with the chiming of 
bells and with all the pomp due to a prince. More than such 
honours as this Emperor Francis was unable to offer to his protege, 
for in view of the need to repel the new attack of the French, the 
contest about Saxony appeared in all its petty triviality as a 
nuisance which must be got rid of at all costs. Prussia now had 
the satisfaction to learn that all the principles of international 
law which Hardenberg had hitherto had to defend alone, amid 
the outcries of an outraged " Europe," were now formally recog- 
nised by Austria, England, and France. Unanimously the 
powers declared that inasmuch as a conquest of the entire 
country, a dehellatio, had been effected, there was no legal ground 
for making peace with the dethroned prince ; it was only as an 
act of grace that the conqueror was prepared to restore half 
of his land to Frederick Augustus, if he would first discharge the 
inhabitants of the other half from their oath, and accept the 
Viennese decision ; until then the administration of the whole 
country must remain in Prussia's hands. It was with such 
proposals that, on March 12th, Mettemich, Wellington, and 
Talleyrand met Frederick Augustus. 

When he defiantly demanded the resumption of the negotia- 
tions, they answered in a sharply couched note that he completely 
misunderstood his position. Talleyrand gave an imposing assur- 
ance that Frederick Augustus had served " the most cruel enemy 
of Germany," and therefore deserved no consideration ! The 
vacillations that followed (negotiations they can hardly be termed) 
aroused no more than a pathological interest. For two months 
the blinded old man put the powers off with demands for com- 
pensation by Warsaw or Lusatia, with appeals to law, with formal 
considerations, and a thousand petty shifts. Not till May i8th 
was peace restored between Prussia and Saxony, precisely in the 

^ Reports of the Saxon general government and of minister Geltz to the chan- 
cellor, dated January 2 and February 19, 1815. 

161 M 

History of Germany 

terms arranged by the Committee of Five, At the courts the 
suspicion was aroused that Frederick Augustus was intentionally 
protracting the negotiations until a new victory of Napoleon 
might restore their old power to the Albertines. This view was 
not unreasonable. The Dresden mob, that of the nobles and that 
of the common people alike, hailed with delight the prospect of 
the great ally's return ! Then, as in the year 1866, the honour- 
able feelings of these circles found faithful expression in the 
couplet : 

" Preussischer Kuckuck, warte ! 
Uns hilft Bonaparte ! " 

The court in Pressburg was inspired by different sentiments ; at 
that moment the return of the Napoleonic dominion would have 
been imwelcome to the old king, because it would have deprived 
him of the support of his powerful protector. The protracted 
and wearisome course of the final negotiations found sufficient 
explanation in the Albertine's legitimist obstinacy and pedantic 
adhesion to form ; to his petty royal pride what did it matter 
that the intolerable provisional conditions in his unfortunate 
country, which for a year and a half had known no rest, should 
be protracted for a few months more ? 

The Prussian general government encountered similar senti- 
ments in the Saxon officials. The supreme authorities offered 
obstinate opposition when the order was issued for the inevitable 
partition of the archives and registers ; the general government 
was even asked to furnish accounts. The privy council of 
Dresden, in a lengthy and ridiculous memorial, went so far as to 
maintain that it was " impossible for the partition to be effected 
by a general mutual understanding," and appealed to the par- 
liamentary speeches " of Lord Castlereagh, who had personally 
co-operated in the composition of the Viennese protocols," All 
was in vain ; even the name of the English lord made no 
impression upon the chancellor, Hardenberg ordered that strict 
measures should be taken ; the partition had been irrevocably 
decided by the powers, and " there could be absolutely no ques- 
tion " of rendering an account for the administration of con- 
quered territory.' Thus the country remained temporarily in 
Prussia's possession ; all the preparations necessary for the 
definitive partition were completed ; the hesitation of the old 

' Instructions to the general government, March 24 and 27, 1815, 


Belle Alliance 

king led merely to fruitless disputes. Not even a glimmer of 
understanding, however, penetrated the minds of the Saxon 
legitimists when they finally saw the fruit of their conduct under 
their very eyes ; they never recognised that it was their own 
enmity to Prussia which had notably co-operated in bringing about 
the much-lamented partition of the country. 

Frederick Augustus's obstinacy was to have momentous 
consequences for the little Saxon army. For a year and a half 
the war-lord had been a prisoner in Prussia's hands, whilst his 
soldiers had been auxiliary associates in the allied camp ; such 
was the perplexing and unnatural situation of the unfortunate 
Saxon regiments. It was their misfortune that they had enjoyed 
almost no share in the military glories of the allies ; the sentiments 
of the Prussian army were utterly strange to these long-service 
professional soldiers, and to them the name Landwehr was a term 
of abuse. After the peace, they remained for a long time in 
western Germany, far from their homes, but subject to continual 
influence from Dresden by letters and envoys. In the officers' 
corps the persistent uncertainty about the future of their country 
led to the formation of factions. An address in favour of the 
imprisoned king was drawn up, notwithstanding the vigorous 
opposition of the Prussian commanding officer. The legitimists 
could no longer endure to see upon the breast of their comrades 
the green cross, a distinction awarded by the Russian govern- 
ment ; in Coblentz there were actual affrays between Gorres and 
the Saxon officers. The rank and file began to distrust their leaders, 
they felt that they had been betrayed and sold, for even the 
common soldier could not fail to perceive that the sudden removal 
of the army-corps to the neighbourhood of Prussian garrisons 
was dictated by political considerations. The troops suffered 
from all the evils of party strife. Anyone who takes an unbiassed 
view of the matter can merely wonder that under such unhappy 
conditions the bonds of German discipline had not been earlier 

Throughout the winter the discipline of the regiments 
remained beyond reproach, although old Rhenish Confederate 
memories were naturally revived, and here and there in the 
quarters of the Saxon soldiers the cry vive I'empereur might be 
heard. The two generals who rightly enjoyed the highest repute 
with the army, Zeschau and Le Coq, were strict legitimists, and 
therefore could not be left with the troops. By a disastrous error, 
the command of the corps was entrusted to General Theilmann, 


History of Germany 

who was regarded with suspicion by his old comrades as a 
deserter ; and he strengthened the ill-feehng towards him by 
endeavouring, after his theatrical manner and with unsoldierly 
loquacity, to win over the officers to the Prussian side by toasts 
and speeches. When the news came from Vienna of the partition 
of Saxony, he at once, on his own initiative, demanded of his 
comrades that they should choose between the Prussian and the 
Saxon service ; thereupon ensued fresh dissensions among the 
officers and increasing disaffection among the troops. In this way 
the general, by his tactless and officious behaviour, was partially 
responsible for the failure of discipline in the little army. 

It was the unavoidable duty of the king of Prussia to put 
an end to this hopeless confusion. As early as March, Boyen 
foresaw the risk of disturbances among the Saxon troops. Could 
affairs be left in their present condition until the Albertine 
was pleased to make up his mind to abandon his foohsh resist- 
ance ? On March 14th the king ordered General Gneisenau that he 
should immediately constitute new regiments out of the portion 
of the troops belonging to the Prussian subdivision of Saxony, 
and added : "It will be my pleasure henceforward to make no 
distinction between them and my other regiments."* The choice 
of service was left free to the officers. The king's conscientious- 
ness led him to avoid entering into the painful question whether 
the earlier oath of the Saxons to their colours had not been dis- 
solved by their desertion to the side of the allies. He merely 
ordered a reconstruction of the Saxon regiments, which was 
unquestionably within his rights, and wished to postpone the 
swearing-in of the troops that were to form part of the Prussian 
army until Frederick Augustus had discharged them from their 
old oath. On April ist Hardenberg issued further strict injunc- 
tions to General Gneisenau to act on the royal order, since there 
could be no doubt, from the course of the negotiations, that 
Frederick Augustus would ultimately give way. The powers 
in Vienna were in harmony with the chancellor's procedure ; they 
resolved to send the regiments that remained with the Saxon 
crown to join Wellington's army. The Prussian generals indul- 
gently postponed the carrying out of the order for some additional 
weeks. To show his confidence in the Saxons, Blucher took up 
his headquarters among them in Li^ge. I3ut his cordial address 
fell upon deaf ears ; the discontent of the troops increased from 
day to day; and the billet-hosts of the Lic>ge region, who were 
' Cabinet Order to Gneisenau, March 14, 1815. 

Belle Alliance 

all Bonapartist in sentiment, still further increased the hostility 
of the bUnded men. 

When at length, by a new royal order, the division of the 
army was decreed, there was a terrible outbreak of the discon- 
tent which had so long been smouldering among the troops — 
discontent stimulated by emissaries from Dresden, and unques- 
tionably fostered by a few unscrupulous officers. A crowd of 
drunken soldiers invaded the commanding officer's house, crying 
out, " We will not suffer ourselves to be divided." The old 
hero had to take to flight from his own soldiers ; he escaped death 
only through the bravery of his Saxon sentries. In such out- 
breaks everything depends upon the force of will and the moral 
prestige of the officers. The Saxon sentries in front of Blucher's 
door honourably fulfilled their military duty ; the cavalry and 
the artillery remained altogether aloof from the disorder. Even 
among the infantry the men were quiet wherever the leaders knew 
how to control them ; those officers who had already reported 
for Prussian service maintained their authority whenever they 
were efficient men. That battalion, however, which at the time 
of the battle of Dennewitz had gone over to the Prussians earlier 
than the other Saxons, now in Liege distinguished itself by a 
tragical lack of discipline,* 

Lenity in face of this mutiny almost in sight of the enemy 
would have been disgraceful weakness. Military law took its 
course. The ringleaders were shot ; the colours of the Saxon 
guard were publicly burned. General Borstell, who out of 
sympathy with the unhappy men had refused to undertake the 
burning of the colours, had to pay for his disobedience by con- 
finement in a fortress ; the command of the second army-corps 
was taken over by General Pirch. The Saxon corps had then 
to start upon the march home, for the Prussian soldiers, raging 
at the insult offered to " Marshal Forwards," would not fight beside 
the Saxons, and Wellington refused to accept the mutinous troops 
into his army. Guilty and innocent alike lost the glory of Ligny 
and Belle Alliance. Upon the return march the Saxons had what 
was perhaps the most horrible experience which has ever befallen 
German soldiers. Everywhere on the Rhine and in West- 
phalia there was displayed a fierce hatred and loathing of the 
mutineers ; in Aix-la-Chapelle armed citizens suspiciously occupied 

* I avail myself here, among otker sources, of the description given by my 
father who, as a very young officer, was attached to a Saxon regiment in the vicinity 
of Li^ge, and who was able to keep his men in order. 


History of Germany 

the guard-posts and the gates when the Saxon regiments were 
marching by. Ever5rwhere the nation was rejoicing over the 
brilliant victory of Blucher and Gneisenau. The Prussian 
volunteers, on their way to join the victorious army, could not 
control their contempt for the " Saxon dogs " ; after repeated 
sanguinary brawls had occurred, it was necessary on several 
occasions for the men to avoid the high-roads in order to escape 
ignominious encounters. For the officers, too, there was the 
bitter reflection that they might have taken part in the battle 
of Belle Alliance, and that there they would unquestionably 
have done their duty ; but of course all the blame was cast upon 
the Prussian generals who, after all, had only carried out their 
king's command and who had not asked the Saxons to swear any 
new oath. Whilst the whole of Germany was uplifted in heart 
at the new glory of Prussian arms, in Saxony a profound gloom 
prevailed. After the division had finally been carried out, the 
little army had to suffer for decades from the consequences of 
this evil day ; it was overloaded with officers, and promotion 
was completely arrested. The Napoleonic veterans gave the 
tone ; it was from these circles that a deadly hatred against 
Prussia was handed down as a sacred inheritance to the younger 

The distress of the old field-marshal verged upon despair. 
For five-and-fifty years he had worn the sword and had never spilt 
any blood but that of the enemy. Now came this disgrace ! Now 
was it necessary for him, the father of his soldiers, to undertake 
executions in his own army, and he had subsequently to exercise 
all his authority to protect the mutineers from the rage of the 
Prussians. The great man was shaken as if by an ague, and 
listened in a state of terrible distress for the roll of the musketry 
when the sentence of the court-martial was being carried out. 
To the king of Saxony, however, he wrote with his characteristic 
frankness, using such language as a military commander had 
never before ventured to use to a crowned head : "By your 
earlier proceedings your majesty has brought the profoundest 
disaster up>on your subjects, a respected branch of the German 
nation. It may result from your subsequent conduct that 
this branch will be overwhelmed with shame. The blood that 
has been spilt will one day at Grxl's judgment scat be visited upon 
him who was responsible ; and before the throne of the Almighty 
to have given commands and to have allowed commands to be 
given, will be regarded as identical. Your majesty is well aware 


Belle Alliance 

that an old man of seventy-three can no longer have any other earthly 
desire than to make the voice of truth audible, and to make the 
right prevail. For this reason your majesty will have to receive 
this letter " ! ^ In his anger, Blucher may have said a word too 
much, for there is no proof that the mutiny was deliberately 
planned. But on the whole the old man was right ; had it not 
been for the bhnd hesitation of Frederick Augustus, and for 
the scandalous incitements which for months past had been 
made by his aiders and abettors, the blood of the Saxon soldiers 
would not have flowed at Lidge. 

In the second week of June, skilfully concealing his march. 
Napoleon led his field army towards the Belgian frontier in 
order to cross the Sambre at Charleroi. From that town a road 
runs northward through Quatre Bras to Brussels, and thence 
passes eastward in a wide curve through Sombreffe to Namur. 
The Imperator had approximate knowledge regarding the posi- 
tion of the allies, being aware that Wellington's army was in the 
neighbourhood of Brussels, and that of the Prussians at Namur. 
Consequently the triangle between Charleroi, Quatre Bras, and 
Sombreffe was the natural place for the junction of the allied 
armies ; should this junction be effected in good time, the victory 
of the 210,000 men of the two commanders over the 128,000 
Frenchmen would be assured. Consequently Najx)leon resolved 
to break in here between the two armies in order to defeat them 
separately. Although he was profoundly disturbed by the fer- 
ment in France, and by the almost hopeless difficulty of his 
military situation, and although on his own admission he could not 
during this campaign always maintain his customary calm sense 
of security, he still possessed his ancient arrogant contempt for 
his opponent. He hoped that his sudden appearance would suffice 
to press Blucher back towards the east, and to force WelUngton 
to retreat northward, so that the interval between the two would 
be increased. He did not expect that the Prussians would 
immediately give battle, close to the frontier. But the unex- 
pected happened. As soon as Gneisenau learned that the enemy 
was approaching Charleroi, he immediately, on the night of June 
I4-I5th, ordered the concentration of the entire army at Som- 
breffe, to be completed on the i6th. The advance of the French 
began at dawn on June 15th. Their right wing attacked Zieten's 

^ Blucher to King Frederick Augustus, May 6, 1815. See Appendix II. 


History of Germany 

army-corps, which, after a bloody skirmish, withdrew along the 
road to Sombreffe. 

Already in these opening struggles the terrible embitter- 
ment of the two nations was manifest. How often in the previous 
year had the Napoleonic veterans returning from the German 
fortresses begun brawls in blind anger when they met Prussian 
regiments on the road ; now they wanted to take revenge on 
these " Prussian dogs " who, on their side, responded with a 
no less cordial hatred. Simultaneously Napoleon's left wing 
marched northward upon the road to Quatre Bras, and since the 
outposts of the English army stood far further back than those 
of the Prussians, the French forces easily reached Frasnes. Thus 
the position of the Prussian army at Sombreffe was threatened 
on the right flank. Moreover, it was already doubtful whether 
on the next day Billow's corps could reach the army in time. To 
spare the susceptibilities of the older general, Gneisenau had 
issued marching orders to Biilow in so polite a phraseology, that 
the command sounded almost like a mere suggestion. Biilow, 
always inclined to act on his own initiative, and still without 
information regarding the real outbreak of hostilities, stayed 
quietly in Liege, and postponed the ordered junction of his corps 
at Hannut until June i6th. Consequently a second urgent order to 
advance sent to him at Hannut failed to find him there ; at a time 
when every minute was valuable, the fourth corps lost an entire 
day, and was unable to join the army on the i6th. Extremely 
serious, therefore, was the situation of the three Prussian corps 
which formed a junction in the neighbourhood of Sombreffe, 
and although the members of Blucher's headquarters staff 
impetuously demanded that decisive action should be taken at 
once, on the morning of June i6th the question was earnestly 
debated whether it would be better to move the army farther to 
the north, nearer to the English forces to the right and to the 
rear ; there the junction of the allies could be completed undis- 

Whereas Gneisenau immediately saw through Napoleon's 
designs, Wellington held fast to his previous opinion that the 
enemy's advance would be effected in several columns, and 
dreaded an attack upon his right flank, upon the road from Mons. 
He disregarded the first news of the skirmish near Charleroi, for 
he believed that only a portion of Napoleon's army was there ; 
and even when, on the afternoon of June 15th, a whole day later 
than Blucher, he issued from Brussels orders for the concentration 



Belle Alliance 

of his army, he did not simply command that the whole army 
should march to the left, to the important nodal point of 
Quatre Bras where the roads from Charleroi and Namur to 
Brussels meet and where a junction with the Prussians was 
possible, but he directed his corps to the line five miles in length 
from Enghien in the west through Nivelles to Genappe in the 
east, so that the English army touched the Charleroi road only by 
its extreme left. All the orders of the English commander were 
dictated by the utterly groundless anxiety of being outflanked to 
the west ; his reserves, which should have been sent to Genappe 
upon the Charleroi road, were kept by him on the i6th for five 
hours at Waterloo, because he doubted whether he ought not to 
employ them farther to the west. Fortunately Prince Bernard 
of Weimar with the Nassau brigade, acting on his own initiative, 
occupied the cross-roads of Quatre Bras on the afternoon of 
June 15th ; but even this weak advance-post of the left wing of 
the English was still several miles behind and to the right of the 
Prussian position, and would with difficulty be able to prevent 
Blucher's right flank from being turned. 

Yet more disastrous was it that WelHngton was himself com- 
pletely deceived, and that he deceived the Prussian commander, 
regarding the position which the English army could assume on 
the i6th. At midnight on the 15th he wrote to Blucher that 
next day, at ten o'clock, 20,000 men of the EngUsh army would 
be at Quatre Bras, and this was simply impossible in view of the 
actual disposition of the forces. On June i6th, before the break 
of day, he left the brilliant ball which the duchess of Richmond 
was giving to the English officers, mounted his horse, and 
hastened on the Charleroi road, southward beyond Quatre Bras, to 
the heights of Frasnes, just opposite the French left wing. Thence 
at about half-past ten he wrote to Blucher sajdng that at noon 
his reserves would be at Genappe, about two miles behind Quatre 
Bras, and that at the same hour the English cavalry would reach 
Nivelles, six miles to the west of Quatre Bras. If this was 
accurate, Blucher could count with certainty upon the support 
of the Enghsh in the afternoon. At one o'clock the two com- 
manders met upon the windmill hill of Bussy, in the rear of the 
Prussian position, and here Wellington promised that he would 
take part in the battle in the afternoon, attacking the French 
in the rear or in the flank, as circumstances might dictate, by 
way of Marbais or Frasnes. The duke parted from the Prussian 
commander with the words, " I shall he here at four o'clock." 


History of Germany 

Trusting in this promise, Blucher and Gneisenau resolved 
to offer battle. The two army-corps of Zieten and Pirch were 
facing southward upon the hills of Brye; and farther forward, in 
the low-lying and damp meadow-land of the Ligne brook, which 
extends along the foot of this gentle elevation, on the stream, 
were, to the right, the village of St. Amand, and to the left the 
village of Ligny, both occupied in force. Thielmann, with the 
third army-corps, did not reach the battle-field till noon, after 
an exhausting march, and placed his troops between Sombreffe 
and Tongrinelle, as a left wing facing westward, so that the lines 
of the centre and of the left wing met almost at a right angle, 
and the hne of battle formed an angle, opening towards the south. 
The extreme right wing at Wagnelee was completely unprotected 
should an attack be made upon it from the west, from the neigh- 
bourhood of Frasnes. It was only the confident expectation that 
Wellington would arrive at the right moment to support the right 
wing that determined the Prussian commanders to give battle in 
so disadvantageous a position ; they hoped to be able to main- 
tain the fight through the afternoon, until, towards evening, the 
40,000 men of the English army would arrive to determine the 

But the English commander was unable to keep his word. 
He was himself attacked at Quatre Bras by a superior force, and 
even at three o'clock in the afternoon he had only 7,000 men on 
the spot ; then reinforcements began to arrive, but it was not 
until late in the evening that more than 30,000 men were 
assembled at Quatre Bras, just enough to repel the attack, so that 
there could no longer be any question of giving the promised 
support. Wellington had promised the impossible, unquestion- 
ably in good faith, and through an error ; but, after all, what 
did it matter to him that he could not keep his word and that 
through his fault his allies suffered a reverse ? They were only 
Germans, and never had Wellington had any regard for the 
foreign nations with whom his life as a warrior brought him in 
contact, whether they were called Hindus, Portuguese, or Prus- 
sians. His immediate task was to preserve the English army — 
such was his view of his duties. If his allies undertook to deliver 
the main assault upon the enemy, he would all the more cer- 
tainly secure time to get his own troops together. It was the 
fault of the duke alone, it was due to the belated and defective 
assembling of his forces, and subsequently to his giving a promise 
it was impossible for him to keep, that instead of a battle with 


Belle Alliance 

united forces there took place two simultaneous battles, 
separated from one another by fully five miles, both fought 
under extremely unfavourable conditions.^ 

Even as late as the morning of June i6th the Imperator 
remained under the delusion that the two armies of the coaUtion 
had withdrawn respectively to Brussels and Namur, and for this 
reason he did not grudge a long rest to his troops, which had 
been wearied by the fighting of the day before and by the pro- 
longed marches of the previous days. Not until noon was he 
assured that the Prussians still maintained their position at Ligny 
and St. Amand la Haye, and he then determined upon an attack 
with the main body of his army, the right wing, and the 
reserves. Ney, however, who was at Frasnes upon the Brussels 
road, with the left wing, received orders to march away to the 
right, and to attack the Prussians upon the right flank ; in this 
way, on the evening of the long summer day, Blucher's army might 
be annihilated. This plan of battle presupposed that upon the 
Brussels road Ney would encounter no more than a weak hostile 
force, that the English had really withdrawn to Brussels. 

Upon the battle-field of Ligny, Napoleon had about 75,000 
men, and Blucher from 78,000 to 80,000. The unfortunate dis- 
position of the Prussian forces enabled the Imperator to employ 
almost the whole of his forces against La Haye and Ligny, where 
the two army-corps of Zeiten and Pirch, numbering 56,000 men, 
had unaided to sustain the attack of a superior force. Thielmann, 
separated from Ligny by the winding stream of the Ligne, was 
occupied in repelling some feint attacks of the French ; he was 
indeed able to send a portion of his troops to the aid of the other 
two corps, but he could not take part in the principal struggle 
with the mass of his own corps. The main battle took place for the 
possession of La Haye and Ligny ; here, within this narrow area, 
was the issue to be decided, and here the Prussian left wing could 
take no part. Both armies fought with desperate valour, the 
hatred of years finding terrible expression. On neither side was 
quarter given ; one French general threatened to shoot any of his 
men who brought in Prussian prisoners. On the whole the French 
troops exhibited more self-command and steadiness ; the officers 
held their people more firmly in hand, whereas the passion of an 

^ Such are the essentials of the matter as presented by Clausewitz ; and the 
duke, in his well-known rejoinder to Clausewitz's book, does not attempt a con- 
tradiction. What Clausewitz merely indicated has now been proved in detail 
by the investigations of M. Lehmann {Historische ZeitscJuift, Neue Folge II. p. 
274), and H. Delbriick [Zeitschrift f. Pr. Geschichte 1877, p. 645). 


History of Germany 

impetuous hist of battle which flamed through the German national 
army often led the Prussian commanders to premature expendi- 
ture of their forces. This region of the fertile plain of Brabant, 
whose undulating surface made it resemble a sea in which the 
waves had undergone solidification, covered with crops standing 
as high as a man and interspersed with potato fields, gave oppor- 
tunities for numerous surprises which the young Prussian troops, 
and above all the Landwehr, were not always prepared to meet 
with calmness. The day was oppressively hot ; under a fierce 
sun and in a sultry atmosphere, the Prussian infantry, part of 
which had been in action on the previous day, whilst another part 
had been marching all night, had for six hours to sustain without 
intermission a hand to hand fight for the villages. Many of them 
were foaming at the mouth from the fury of the struggle and the 
incredible exertion ; here one would be seen lapping up the foul 
effluent from a manure heap, whilst another, unwounded, would 
drop dead close by from sheer exhaustion. 

Shortly before three o'clock, Vandamme began the attack 
upon the Prussian right wing at La Haye, and occupied the 
village after a bloody struggle lasting two hours. Then Blucher 
himself led fresh troops to the assault ; the village was recon- 
quered, but was lost once more when an attack, made by the 
Prussian cavalry near by, miscarried. Here the fight now came 
to a stand-still ; the French progress was arrested in the 
village, beyond which they could not advance a foot. In vain 
towards evening did Napoleon send a portion of the guard to sup- 
port Vandamme ; Zieten's corps maintained its position immov- 
ably for six hours. Had the English now arrived to reinforce 
the right wing, victory would have been decided. Meanwhile 
G^Tard, with the right wing of the French, had advanced against 
the village of Ligny. There the Prussians had utilised the chateau 
and the houses for defence ; their batteries effectively com- 
manded the plain in front. Four times were the assailants repelled, 
and when at length they made their way into the houses, they 
gained only half the village. In the other half, across the stream, 
the Prussians maintained their position ; and now within the 
village there developed a fight of unprecedented obstinacy, for both 
parties received extensive reinforcements from the thick masses 
of infantry in the rear. Soon the chateau and a considerable 
proportion of the village were in flames ; in the village street 
the bodies were heaped up ; every house and every stable became 
a little fortress, and men fought with bayonets on the stairs and 



Belle Alliance 

in the rooms. In this way the struggle continued indecisively 
for five terrible hours. But the Prussians were using up all their 
strength ; 14,000 men, more than nineteen battalions, were 
gradually thrown into this single village, and finally there remained 
no more than one fresh regiment of infantry available for the 
decisive issue. As yet nothing was lost ; the appearance of the 
English would have turned the scale. In the afternoon, Wellington 
had once more sent a message to the field-marshal by Lieutenant 
Wussow, to the effect that with the reinforcements just received 
he would attempt a vigorous offensive action in favour of the 
Prussian army ; his representative upon Blucher's headquarters 
staff, Colonel Hardinge, still declared positively at seven o'clock 
that in half an hour at latest his countrymen would arrive. An 
hour later, Gneisenau sent a message to General Krafft, saying 
that the latter need only maintain his position in Ligny for a 
little while longer, for the help of the EngUsh could not then fail 
to arrive. 

The sun was at the point of setting. Then Napoleon per- 
sonally led against Ligny, in order to break through the Prussian 
centre, his well-spared reserves, consisting of the Old Guard and 
a powerful force of cavalry. Whilst the grenadiers pressed into 
the village street with fierce cries of, " Long five the emperor ! 
No quarter ! " and now at length compelled the wearied defenders 
to withdraw, several battalions of the guard, favoured by the 
fading light, surrounded the village from the east. Following 
them, riding through the stream, came seven regiments of heavy 
dragoons, the nucleus of the imperial cavalry, numbering 5,000 
horse. They rode past Ligny towards the windmill hill of Bussy, 
attacking the second line of the Prussian position. Blucher 
recognised the danger, and endeavoured to repel the attack with 
his favourite arm. Just before, the old man had seemed exhausted 
by his exertions, and by the terrible doubts with which he was 
assailed so that he had the appearance of a broken man ; but now 
he flamed up once more with youthful fire, sending to the attack 
a cavalry brigade which was stationed on the flank behind Ligny. 
The cavalrymen shouted with delight when the old hero, bran- 
dishing his sabre, mounted on his magnificent white charger, placed 
himself at their head. Near him rode Lieutenant-colonel Liitzow, 
the leader of volunteers of 1813, commanding the sixth regi- 
ment of Uhlans ; next came the West Prussian dragoons, those 
of the Electoral Mark, and the Landwehr cavalry of the Elbe ; 
in an extended fine, the horses rode through the standing com. 


History of Germany 

Then the animals were suddenly taken aback by a deep sunken 
lane which cut through the fields, and whilst the Uhlans were 
endeavouring to get across the unexpected obstacle, two well- 
aimed salvos of artillery struck their disordered ranks, Milhaud s 
cuirassiers advanced to the charge, and the Prussians withdrew. 
The cuirassiers in turn had to retire before the fire of a Prussian 
battalion ; the laughing Westphalians could see how the heavy 
dragoons disengaged themselves from their fallen horses and holding 
their cuirasses with both hands, fled on foot. The Uhlans and 
the Landwehr cavalry re-formed their ranks and advanced once 
more ; the masses of the contestants flowed hither and thither. 
Gneisenau was riding amid the wild confusion ; drawing his sabre, 
he said cheerfully to Major Bardeleben, who, weaponless, his arm 
in a sling, was riding beside him : " Keep close to me ; I will cut 
a way out for you ! " Simultaneously the regiments driven 
out of Ligny withdrew towards Brye, retreating slowly, firing 
unceasingly, but in disorder. The centre of the line of battle 
had now been almost broken through. 

St. Amand la Haye was also at length evacuated ; unceas- 
ingly the enemy pressed forward towards the height of Bussy. 
Just before nightfall a thunder-storm broke over the battle-field ; 
for half an hour the rolling of the thunder and the howling of the 
storm completely drowned the noise of battle. Yet amid the 
obscurity the struggle continued ; the exhausted soldiers breathed 
more freely in the fresher air. The beaten forces made a fresh 
stand at Brye and the hill of Bussy, so that here the advance of 
the enemy was checked. Meanwhile the field-marshal had dis- 
appeared. In the first attack of the Uhlans, his horse had been 
shot, and he now was lying almost unconscious beneath the heavy 
beast ; several times friends and foes passed close by him in 
conflict without noticing him, only his faithful aide-de-camp. 
Count Nostitz, remaining with him, until at length. Major von dem 
Busche of the Landwehr cavalry of the Elbe came by, and brought 
away the stunned man upon a soldier's horse. In the confusion 
of the night several hours elapsed before the rescue of the com- 
mander became known. 

Now, for the time being, the leadership of the army was 
entirely in the hands of Gneisenau, who remained for a while in 
deep reflection in the neighbourhood of Brye. Those who saw 
him in his majestic calm, had no suspicion of the difficult thoughts 
which were raging through his mind. Like Blucher and Grolman, 
he had trusted inipUcitly in Wellington's assurance, had counted 


Belle Alliance 

securely upon victory an hour before, and thought with anger 
of the EngUsh commander who had kept his word so badly. What 

f could seem more natural than to follow the Englishman's example, 
to care only for the security of his own army, and to direct its 
course in safety towards the German frontier ? The old Roman 
road, which in the rear of the battle-field leads north-eastward into 
the valley of the Meuse, offered the defeated army the most con- 
venient line of retreat ; here a junction could soon be effected 
with Billow, who was advancing from the east, whilst subsequently 
reinforcements could be secured from Germany. Instinctively 
a portion of the troops had already taken this route, which 
seemed at the first glance to be the only one open ; but if the 
army went towards the Meuse it would withdraw from its ally, 
and it might be expected with certainty that the cautious EngUsh 
commander would then retreat to Antwerp, and perhaps to his 
ships. In this way the Belgian campaign would be ended at a 
single blow, and who could tell whether the coahtion, with its evil 
I memories of the congress and its laboriously maintained dissen- 
sions, with its pusillanimous headquarters staff under the com- 
mand of Schwarzenberg, would continue to find courage to carry 
on the war against France after the two best commanders had 
given up the game ? There was still another way out. If Wel- 
lington had not been willing to advance to join the Prussians, 
these could themselves withdraw in order to effect a junction 
with the English army. Should the army surrender its communi- 
cation with the Rhine, and, disregarding all dangers, take the 
difiicult path to the north in the direction of Wavre, the allies 
would draw nearer together, and it was possible that in two or 
three days, somewhere in the vicinity of Brussels, the battle could 
be resumed with renewed energy, that battle which had now proved 
a failure through the fault of Wellington. The momentous 
decision had to be made within a few minutes ; the fate of the next 
months of European history rested upon it. Gneisenau deter- 
mined, as he was forced to determine, as Blucher alone of all 
(military commanders of that day would have determined. After 
a glance at the map, he ordered a northward march through Tilly 
and Mellery to Wavre. 

The aides-de-camp hastened to give the troops the right 

I direction in the darkness. General Jagow covered the retreat, 
remaining upon the battle-field until two in the morning. The 
French were not confident of their own victory, and the guard 
stood under arms throughout the night. They neither ventured 

History of Germany 

to pursue, nor yet even to ascertain the direction of the beaten 
army's retreat, and they completely lost touch with their oppo- 
nents. The Prussian army had lost 12,000 men, somewhat more 
than the enemy. Zieten's corps had lost an entire fourth of its 
strength. So invincible, however, was the moral energy of this 
army, that after a few hours' rest during the night the regiments 
were at daybreak already once more in good order. There was 
not a trace of that feeling of depression which is apt after a defeat 
to overcome even the most valiant ; the rank and file and the 
leaders all looked for a new battle which should wipe out the dis- 
grace. A few thousand men of the newly-formed Westphahan 
regiment had, indeed, been dispersed, and strayed along the 
Roman road to the Meuse and to the Rhine. But of the tried 
troops from the old provinces hardly anyone was missing ; the 
few among the veterans of 18 13 who in the darkness of night had 
been separated from their regiments through going to the east, 
determined, as soon as they encountered Billow's corps, to join thi« 
force, and were able to take part in the battle of Waterloo. 

The English army had passed the hot day more successfully. 
When, towards two o'clock, Ney, with the left wing of the French 
army, advanced northward, as ordered, upon the Brussels road 
against Quatre Bras, he was soon to learn that the English force 
that opposed him was far stronger than Napoleon had assumed. 
The Netherland general Perponcher, recognising the significance 
of the situation, had, on his own initiative, and against Welhng- 
ton's orders, remained with his division at Quatre Bras, * and had 
to repel the first attack. At the outset the force at Ney's disposal 
was more than twice as strong as that of the 7,000 Nassauers and 
Netherlanders who were placed here ; and since in addition Ney 
was able unnoticed to advance his infantry through the wood 
of Bossu which lay upon his left, the allied forces were for some 
time hard pressed, and were already on the point of evacuating 
the important position at the cross-roads. Then, between three 
and four o'clock (several hours later than Wellington had calcu- 
lated), came the first regiments of the reserve from Brussels ; 
an English division, under General Picton, and Duke WilUam with 
his Black Brunswickers. They were able to reinforce the position 
upon the left wing, and were already advancing beyond Quatre 
Bras, when a powerful onslaught of the French cavalry threw 
them into confusion. Wellington himself escaped death only by 

* The importance of this brave decision was recognised by Gneisenau in a 
letter to the king dated June 12. 181 7. 


Belle Alliance 

the speed of his charger. Meanwhile the valiant Guelph had been 
shot dead in the midst of his body-guard. He died at the best 
moment for his reputation ; for henceforward he Uved in the 
memory of his loyal people as a hero of the nation, as the leader 
of the black troop ; and the detestable traits of Guelph obstinacy 
and arrogance which had, during the brief months of his rule, 
been extremely conspicuous to the little land of Brunswick, were 
quickly forgotten. 

At this dangerous moment, the English and Hanoverian 
regiments of General Alten came into contact with the right wing 
of the allies. Wellington would not withdraw from Nivelles 
more than this weak division, for he was still under the illusion 
that Napoleon would attempt to surround him on the west. 
Alten's division began to deploy in the wood of Bossu, and with 
the help of this force Ney's second attack was repelled. For a 
long time now Ney had abandoned the hope of being able to reach 
the battle-field of Ligny by overthrowing the English force ; it 
would be enough for him if he could only press his opponents 
back at this point from the Brussels road. The man who had 
hitherto always been distinguished above all his rivals by an 
unshaken soldierly courage, showed himself throughout this cam- 
paign to be in a condition of feverish disturbance ; it was plain 
that he was profoundly disturbed by the memory of the broken 
oath of a few weeks back, and by the fear of a shameful future. 
In passionate excitement he adjured his valiant Rhenish fellow- 
countryman Kellermann to give a decisive turn to the affair, as 
he had done once before at Marengo, by a powerful cavalry 
charge ; the whole future of France was at stake. This third 
attempt also failed, chiefly owing to the steadfastness of the English 
veterans under Picton. Meanwhile Alten's regiments had entered 
the wood of Bossu, while fresh reserves were advancing upon the 
Brussels road— the English guards and the remainder of the 
Brunswickers. WeUington now had at his disposal more than 
30,000 men, against 21,000. Twilight fell as the whole line began 
to advance, and the battle ended almost on the same spot on 
which it had begun. 

A remarkable piece of luck came to the aid of the EngUsh 
commander. General Erlon's corps had been assigned to Ney's 

I army, but in the afternoon, before Erlon had been able to take 
part in the battle of Quatre Bras, he had been summoned by 
Napoleon to the battle-field of Ligny ; the regiments were already 
close to the right wing of the Prussians, when Ney recalled them 
177 N 

History of Germany 

to Quatre Bras ; and thus throughout the afternoon this corps, 
which might readily have inflicted a decisive blow upon Wel- 
lington, wandered to and fro between the two battle-fields, and 
did not finally join Ney's army until the evening, when the matter 
was already settled. The marshal, although he had not been able 
to fulfil the impossible demands of the Imperator, had still 
secured a valuable success, for the junction of the two armies of 
the coalition had been temporarily prevented. Wellington, how- 
ever, spoke with unpleasant arrogance of a victory which was, 
in truth, of extremely modest proportions, saying several times : 
" We have conquered ; the Prussians have been beaten." Since 
he still failed to grasp Napoleon's plan, and on June 17th, and 
even on June i8th, believed it possible that he might be out- 
flanked from the west, he was unable to grasp that he had himself 
been responsible for all the wretched confusion of this needless 
double engagement, and could not find a word of gratitude for the 
Prussians whose unselfish sacrifice had alone rendered it possible 
for him to give battle at Quatre Bras. 

Late in the night, Blucher was discovered by his general 
staff officers in a peasant's hut at Mellery, on the road to Wavre. 
The old man lay upon the straw, quietly smoking his pipe ; he 
had been shaken in every limb by his heavy fall, but his cheer- 
ful confidence was unabated. He immediately expressed his 
approval of the orders issued by his friend Gneisenau ; the two 
had lived in such intimate association that Gneisenau was always 
sure that his own resolves would express the field-marshal's 
thoughts. In the morning the commander-in-chief rode in front 
of the army to Wavre ; the soldiers shouted with dehght as soon 
as they saw the rescued man, and they answered with a cheerful 
" yes," when, as he rode by, he asked them if they would hke 
to fight again on the morrow. The scorching sunshine of the day 
before was followed by a grey, oppressive day, interspersed with 
thunder-showers ; in the evening came pouring rain which lasted 
all through the night. The soldiers, who had now for three days 
been continuously marching or fighting, laboriously plodded over 
the saturated ground, helping to push the wheels of the cannon 
through the deep mud. In bivouac, sleep was impossible, and yet 
their courage remained imperturbable ; on the morning of June 
l8th the Silesian fusiliers were dancing a merry waltz to the 
strains of their field music. A cordial appeal issued^ by the 
field-marshal exhorted the troops to offer up all their energies in 


Belle Alliance 

the new struggle : "Do not forget that you are Prussians, and 
that our watchword is ' Death or victory ' ! " 

In his report to the king, Gneisenau openly complained that 
WeUington, " contrary to all expectation and assurance," had not 
concentrated his forces at the right moment ; and in confidential 
letters he expressed his views still more incisively. In the pub- 
lished reports from Blucher's headquarters staff, the painful ques- 
tion was, however, carefully ignored, and after the war Gneisenau 
magnanimously avoided any paper warfare against the allies of 
Prussia, although the English commander's insincere accounts 
of the matter must have made this honourable soldier long to 
express his own views. It was not until twenty years later that 
the secret history of this campaign was elucidated in a posthumous 
historical work by Clausewitz, who had unquestionably utilised 
information imparted by his friend Gneisenau. At that moment 
nothing was further from Gneisenau's thoughts than fruitless 
squabbling about past errors ; he rep>orted to the king that a 
battle with separate forces was no longer possible, and immedi- 
ately made preparations for a junction with the English army. 
Hour by hour the feeUng in the headquarters staff became more 
confident, for the hesitating attitude of the enemy showed clearly 
that the result of the fighting of June i6th had for the Prussians 
been a lost battle but not a defeat. Blucher was absolutely sure 
of the issue ; it was his wish that if Napoleon did not attack the 
Enghsh, he himself in conjunction with WeUington should inome- 
diately offer battle, and he welcomed the violence of the 
weather, speaking of it as " our old ally of the Katzbach." 
The Russian military attach^ Toll had a bad time of it when he 
thought it necessary to offer consolation to these proud Prus- 
sians, and said soothingly that the great army under Schwarzen- 
berg would soon put things right. Nostitz, Blucher's aide-de- 
camp, answered sharply : " Before you get back to your 
emperor either the Belgian campaign will have been completely 
lost, or else we shall have won the second battle and shall no 
longer have any need of your great army ! " 

In answer to Blucher, the Enghsh commander declared that 
he would be ready to undertake a new battle on June i8th, on 
the Brussels road, if he could count on the help of about 25,000 
Prussians. Blucher rejoined that he would come, and that he 
hoped to do so with his entire army. After a brief and brilUant 
cavalry skirmish, in which Lord Uxbridge with the giants of the 
English dragoon guards Uterally rode down the French lancers, 


History of Germany 

Wellington returned northward in the afternoon, and collected 
his army at Mont St. Jean, across the Brussels road, fronting 
southward. Even now he did not completely abandon his fear 
of being outflanked on the right, and therefore stationed at Hal, 
nine miles to the west of the battle-field, a force of 17,000 men, 
so that in the decisive hours nearly one-fifth of his army was 
lacking. In the night of June I7th-i8th, the whole Prussian 
army was assembled in the neighbourhood of Wavre, from nine 
to ten miles to the east of Mont St. Jean, and the anxiously- 
awaited ammunition column also put in an appearance. But this 
short distance, which an aide-de-camp could traverse at a gallop 
in httle more than an hour, offered serious difficulties, in the 
existing terrible conditions of the roads, to the movement of the 
cumbrous artillery of a great army. In addition, considerable 
delay was unavoidable, for the as yet untouched corps of Biilow 
was to take the lead, and would have to make its way through the 
more advanced portions of the army. If the English commander 
intended merely to make a demonstration, as Gneisenau for a 
time suspected, the position of the Prussians, whose left wing was 
exposed, might become extremely dangerous ; they could only 
undertake the venture confiding in the invincible staying-power 
of the EngUsh army. All that Wellington expected from the 
Prussian commander was that he could draw near to strengthen 
the left wing of the English. Gneisenau, however, in his great 
manner, chose a bolder and more difficult course, thinking rather 
of attacking the French in the rear and upon the right flank. 
Should this attack prove successful. Napoleon's army would be 
annihilated, and the war would be ended at a single blow. 

It was only through the sins of omission of the conqueror 
that the conquered could venture to conceive such bold ideas. 
It would certainly have been a grave undertaking for Napoleon to 
pursue the Prussians with the main force of his army, but his 
desperate situation demanded bold resolves. Had he pressed on 
at the heels of the most active of his opponents, it was possible 
that the beaten army would during its retreat have been thrown 
into utter disorder, for the effect of a victory is usually redoubled 
by persistent pursuit. It was at least doubtful whether, in that 
case, Wellington would have ventured to attack Ney ; it is more 
probable that the English commander would have retreated upon 
Antwerp. It was not cowardice which prevented the Impcrator 
from making up his mind to such a course, but his old error 
of overweening presumption. As formerly after the battle of 


Belle Alliance 

Dresden and after the victories in Champagne, so on this occasion 
did he esteem his opponents too hghtly ; he fully believed that 
the Prussians were retreating in complete disorder towards the 
Rhine, and did not even regard it as necessary to have their 
retreat watched. If matters had happened as he imagined, he 
would, indeed, have had plenty of time to defeat the English. On 
the morning of June 17th he gave his army a comfortable rest. 
His thoughts were more in Paris than on the field of battle ; he 
asked his generals what the Jacobins would do after this new victory 
of the empire. Not till noon did he order Marshal Grouchy to 
pursue the Prussians in the direction eastward towards Gem- 
bloux and the Meuse, not to lose sight of them, and to complete 
their defeat ; for this purpose he assigned to the marshal 33,000 
men, a force too strong for an observation corps and too weak 
to venture a battle against the whole Prussian army. During 
the latter half of the day. Grouchy moved eastward to the Irre, 
without getting in touch with the Prussians. It was not until 
the morning of June i8th that he found their trace, and turned 
towards Wavre. He guessed nothing of Gneisenau's plans, now 
thinking that the Prussian army was retreating upon Brussels ; 
just as little as the emperor did he imagine that a beaten army 
could regain order imrriediately after the battle, and prepare for 
a fresh onslaught. The Imperator no longer thought of pushing 
in between the two armies of the coalition, since the possibility 
of the retreat of the Prussians northward was altogether out of 
his calculations. He himself, on the afternoon of June 17th, 
formed a junction with Ney's army in the neighbourhood of 
Quatre Bras, and then, feeling perfectly secure, moved northward 
upon the Brussels road after the English, expecting on the i8th 
or the 19th to force them to join battle with him on one side or 
the other of Brussels. 

Whilst the course of the double battle of June i6th was 
confused and obscure, the battle of June i8th was simple and 
imposing. With the eye of a master, Wellington had chosen a 
strong defensive position such as he had learned to love in the 
Spanish campaign. His army was placed near the centre of a line 
of low hills running from west to east, at the village of Mont St. 
'Jean, which is traversed by the well-paved Brussels road cutting 
straight across the elevation. Upon this narrow space, over an 
■extension of less than a mile, the troops were closely packed 
together. There were more than 30,000 Germans, 24,000 
Englishmen, more than 13,000 Netherlanders, a force of 68,000 


History of Germany 

in all. Lord Hill commanded the right, the Prince of Orange 
the centre, and General Picton the left wing. A deeply sunken 
cross-road, enclosed by hedges, ran along the front. At the rear 
of the army the ground fell gently away, so that the majority of 
the regiments were hidden from the advancing enemy ; further 
to the north there lay close to the road the thin wood of Soignes, 
traversed by numerous paths, and offering good cover in case of 
retreat. For many hours the duke remained with the centre 
at Mont St. Jean ; here, beneath an elm tree, upon an elevation 
near the high-road, he could gain a comprehensive view of almost 
the entire field, and could, after his usual custom, direct every- 
thing in person. A few hundred yards to the front there lay, like 
the outworks of a fortress, three strongly occupied positions ; 
in front of the right was the chateau of Hougomont, standing 
amid the ancient trees of its park and surrounded by high walls ; 
in front of the centre, on the high road, was the farmstead of La 
Haye Sainte ; before the extreme left wing were the white houses 
of Papelotte and La Haye. From Mont St. Jean the road declines 
gently southwards, then runs absolutely level through open fields, 
to ascend once more nearly three miles to the south, crossing 
another elevation close to the farm of La Belle Alliance. Thus 
the battle-field has the form of a wide and shallow basin, offering 
the freest possible opportunities for the utilisation of all arms. 

Napoleon established his army upon the heights near La 
Belle Alliance, placing Reille to the left and Erlon to the right 
of the road, whilst his reserves were in the rear at Rossomme. It 
was his plan simply to break through the EngUsh Hues by one 
or more frontal attacks, if possible at the enemy's weakest point, 
the English left wing. Since the firearms of those days allowed 
the attacking force to draw close to the defenders with unbroken 
energy, the Imperator hoped to fight down his tenacious oppo- 
nent by colossal, massive blows. His method of warfare had, 
during the last ten years, become continually more violent ; to- 
day at length, in the feverish passion of the desperate gamester, 
he showed all the savagery of the Jacobin, pressing thousands of 
his cavalrymen and whole divisions of his infantry into a single 
mass, which, like Alexander's phalanxes, were to trample every- 
thing down before them. It was in this way that the battle 
opened with a continual advance and withdrawal of the attacking 
forces, like the waves on a steep shore, until the appearance of the 
Prussians in Napoleon's rear and upon his right flank completely 
disordered the Imperator's plan of battle. The course of the 


Belle Alliance 

struggle was like that of a deliberately planned tragedy : at first 
a simple development, then a violent tension and increase, and at 
length the intervention of a crushing destiny ; among all the 
battles of modem history, only that of Koniggratz displays a 
similar character, that of a perfect work of art. Thus the ulti- 
mate issue left upon the world the impression of overwhelming 
and invincible necessity, because a wonderful destiny had allotted 
to each of the three nations, and to each of the commanders, the 
precise role which corresponded best to their peculiar energies : 
the British exhibited in the work of defence their phlegmatic and 
iron tenacity ; the French displayed their knightly and uncon- 
trollable courage in attack ; finally the Prussians exhibited a 
similar stormy boldness in onslaught and, in addition, what 
counts more than all, the self-restraint of the inspired will. 

Napoleon counted with certainty upon a speedy victory, 
for he believed that the Prussians were far away to the south- 
east at Namur. His army numbered more than 72,000 men, 
being superior to that of Welhngton, above all in the strength of 
its cavalry and the preponderance of its artillery, for Napoleon 
had two hundred and forty heavy guns as against one hundred and 
fifty in Wellington's army. In such circumstances it seemed that 
there could be no harm in postponing the attack until noon, when 
the sun would have had some effect in drying the saturated 
ground. In order to alarm his opponent and to increase the con- 
fidence of his own army, the Imperator held a grand review under 
the very eyes of the English. Sick as he was, distressed by a 
thousand doubts "and anxieties, he undoubtedly also felt that 
it was necessary to raise his own spirits by the sight of his 
faithful followers. Whenever, at a later date, in his lonely island 
prison, he thought of this hour, it was with rapture, and he would 
exclaim : " The earth was proud to carry so many brave men ! " 
Thus for the last time there appeared in parade before their war- 
lord the veterans of the Pyramids, of Austerlitz, of Borodino, 
who had so long been the terror of the world, and who had now 
saved from the shipwreck of their old glories nothing more than 
their soldierly pride, their eagerness for revenge, and their 
untamable love for their hero. The drums sounded, the bands 
played Partant pour la Syrie ! In long lines were extended the 
grenadiers in their bearskin caps, the cuirassiers with helmets 
decorated with horse-tails, the voltigeurs with tasselled shakos, 
the lancers with fluttering pennons — one of the most magnificent 
and bravest armies ever seen in history. All the boastful glory of 


History of Germany 

the empire was exhibited once again, an overwhehning spectacle 
for the hearts of the veterans ; and in their midst once again the 
war-lord in his gloomy majesty. There was no end to the shouts 
of acclamation ; the idol of the soldiery had only two days before 
displayed his invincibility once more. Yet this convulsive jubila- 
tion, which contrasted so strangely with the absolute stillness 
of the English camp, came from oppressed hearts. The conscious- 
ness of guilt, the premonition of a tragical destiny, lay upon the 
most valiant spirits. Ten hours more, and the bold hope of the 
German strategist had been fulfilled ; this magnificent army, 
with its defiant spirit, its pride, and its savage strength of man- 
hood, had been annihilated down to the last squadron. 

Half an hour before noon Napoleon began the battle, sending 
his left wing against the chateau of Hougomont, whilst upon the 
right he made arrangements for a decisive blow. There four divisions 
of infantry were united to form a gigantic column ; the way was 
paved for the attack by the persistent artillery fire of a great 
battery placed at Belle Alliance. Towards one-thirty, General 
Erlon led the powerful force of infantry against the British left 
wing. But before this movement began, the calm security of the 
emperor's calculations had already been disturbed by the receipt 
of sinister news. Through an intercepted letter he learned at 
one o'clock that General Biilow was marching against the French 
right wing ; and whilst standing on the hill at Rossomme, behind 
the French centre, studying his map, he thought that already, 
far to the east, at the village of Chapelle St. Lambert (which 
stands on an elevation), he could discern dark masses of troops, 
which immediately afterwards disappeared among the undula- 
tions of the ground. An aide-de-camp was immediately 
despatched in this direction, and confirmed the observation. The 
emperor vigorously endeavoured to control his dismay, and for 
the moment sent two cavalry divisions eastward across the right 
wing of the battle-field. Surely it could only be the single corps 
of Biilow, perhaps only a portion of that corps, and before the 
Prussians could intervene in the battle, Wellington would certainly 
be defeated. To his officers Napoleon declared, with confident 
mien, that Marshal Grouchy was advancing to the support of 
the right wing — for the army must not suspect this danger. Mean- 
while Erlon had moved forward with his four infantry divisions ; 
during the first advance he suffered severe losses, whole ranks 
of the deep columns being mowed down by the English artillery 
fire. The first outcome of the attack was to put a Netherland 


Belle Alliance 

brigade to flight ; only part of the troops of the young kingdom 
maintained their position ; old Blucher had been right when he 
expressed the opinion that these Belgians were "by no means 
fierce animals." Now, however, the Enghsh and Hanoverian 
infantry emerged from behind the protecting hedges, surrounding 
with a long line the unwieldy masses of the French. After a 
murderous struggle, in which the valiant Picton found his death, 
the attacking force had to withdraw. Ponsonby's Scottish cavalry 
pursued them, dispersing the retreating men, and pressing forward 
irresistibly as far as the great French battery ; only here were 
they forced to turn by the French cavalry. 

The great blow had miscarried. Now, too, it was no longer 
possible to avoid recognising that at least a considerable propor- 
tion of the Prussian army was advancing, and advancing towards 
the village of Planchenoit, in the rear of the French right wing. 
It was still possible for the Imperator to withdraw from the battle, 
but how could his pride endure so humiliating a resolve ? He 
despatched Lobau's corps to Planchenoit, so that his line was now 
no longer straight, but had the form of a curve bent backwards 
towards the right. The Prussians had spoiled his entire order of 
battle even before they had fired a single shot. The danger 
threatening the right was carefully concealed from the portions 
of the army which were fighting against the English. For this 
reason Napoleon did not allow Lobau's troops to advance, further 
eastward, where they could easily have arrested the progress of 
Billow's corps on the edge of the wide valley of the Lasne, but 
kept them close to Planchenoit, for the collision with the Prus- 
sians must be postponed as long as possible, so that the army's 
confidence of victory might not be shaken by the thunder of 
artillery upon the right. Influenced by his dread of the Prussian 
attack, the Imperator no longer ventured to send against the 
English the twenty-four battalions of his guard, which still 
remained untouched in reserve, but determined to break through 
Wellington's centre with the whole of his cavalry. This was a 
lopeless move, for the main body of the alUed infantry was still 

In the morning Blucher had left camp at Wavre. He had 
>y no means recovered from his severe fall on the previous day, 
)ut who could speak to the old hero of repose ? "I would 
ither," he exclaimed, " have myself tied on to my horse than 
liss this battle ! " In good spirits he rode among the regiments, 
•^hich were labouring through the mire with incredible exertions ; 


History of Germany 

a conflagration in Wavxe had seriously delayed the march. The 
soldiers rejoiced wherever the commander appeared, turning 
towards him with shouts, stroking his knee ; for every one of them 
he had an encouraging word, saying : " Children, I have promised 
my brother Wellington that we will come. You won't let me 
break my word ? " Thielmann remained at Wavre with the third 
army-corps in order to protect the rear of the army against an 
attack by Grouchy, who did in fact draw near to Wavre in the 
afternoon. The other three corps marched upon Chapelle St. 
Lambert ; at ten o'clock the advance-guard, and at one the main 
body of the army, arrived there from the heights. Now the army 
was divided. Zieten marched straight forward with the first corps 
to Ohain and beyond, to attack the French right wing. Biilow 
with the fourth corps, and behind him Pirch with the second corps, 
turned to the left, southwestward towards the rear of the French 
position. Fortunately the difficult defile of the valley of the 
Lasne was not occupied by the enemy ; the stream was crossed, 
and at about four o'clock Billow's troops attained a well-protected 
position in and behind the wood of Frichemont ; the advance 
that was to take the French by surprise, was not to be begun until 
a sufficient force was on the spot. The regiments took up their 
positions in profound silence ; the generals went to the border of 
the wood and with tense glances followed the course of the battle. 
When one of the officers expressed the opinion that the enemy 
would now give up the attack upon the English, and, in order to 
secure their retreat, would throw their chief force against the 
Prussians, Gneisenau answered : " You ill know Napoleon. He 
will now endeavour to break the English line of battle at all costs, 
and will only employ what is absolutely necessary against us." 

This actually took place. Even before the Prussians reached 
the wood of Frichemont, between three and four in the afternoon, 
the second great onslaught of the French had begun. Ney, with 
fourteen regiments of heavy cavalry, galloped along the west side 
of the road, to attack the squares of the EngUsh guard and Alten's 
division in the centre. For some time the struggle appeared 
indecisive, but the infantry held their position unshaken. The 
French attack was finally repulsed, and thereupon Ney joined to 
his force Kellcrmann's cavalry, so that now twenty-six cavalry 
regiments moved to the renewed attack, the greatest force of 
cavalry which this warlike age had ever seen in operation at a 
single spot. The ground shook with the hoofs of ten thousand 
horses, the basin of land was filled with a forest of sabres and 

1 86 

Belle Alliance 

lances, the struggle wavered for an hour, and the attack against 
individual battalions was renewed from ten to twelve times. But 
the firmness of the English and German infantry still retained 
the upper hand. This attack also came to nothing, the squadrons 
began to retreat, a bold advance on the part of the English and 
Hanoverian reserve cavalry threw them into complete confusion ; 
but even the victors were profoundly exhausted. 

Meanwhile upon other parts of the battle-field the course of 
events was far more favourable for Napoleon. Quiot's division, 
which had already taken part in Erlon's great attack, advanced 
again along the high-road and stormed the farm of La Haye 
Sainte. Here was Major Baring, with a battalion of light infantry 
of the German legion, and a few Nassauers. Already at noon the 
green yagers had repelled Erlon's columns ; the faithful men 
were devoted to their officers, and every one of them, down to the 
last private, was determined never to retreat from this post of 
honour. But what a task was now theirs ! The roofs of the 
farm buildings were already on fire, and some of the soldiers must 
engage in the work of fighting the flames, whilst the others, 
behind the hedges and walls of the garden, were directing their 
fire against an overwhelmingly superior force. Powder and shot 
were exhausted. Vainly did Baring again and again send mes- 
sengers to the rear to Mont St. Jean, urgently begging for 
ammunition. It was not until almost the last cartridge had been 
fired that the vaHant little garrison evacuated the position. 
The French raged into the farmstead as the hostile force 
withdrew, shouting as they searched the rooms and the 
bams : " Pas de pardon a ces coquins verds ! " for how many 
of their comrades had fallen at noon, and more recently, before 
the well-aimed balls of the German yagers. The outwork of the 
I English centre had been taken, and soon the attacking stream 
[advanced further towards Mont St. Jean. The centre of Wel- 
lington's line of battle had been broken. Thereupon the duke 
himself led Kielmannsegg's Hanoverian brigade to the spot, and 
jthus succeeded for a time in fiUing'^the gap in the centre. But 
I only for a time, for the reserves had already been called up to the 
[last man, and La Haye Sainte, the commanding position imme- 
[diately in front of the centre, remained in the enemy's hands. At 
the same time the valiant Bernard of Weimar, upon the left wing, 
was unable any longer to maintain the outwork of La Haye and 
Papelotte against Durutte's division. He began to retreat. Well- 
ington's anxiety increased. During the last few hours he had 


History of Germany 

repeatedly sent aides-de-camp to Blucher with urgent requests 
for assistance. Cold and severe he stood among his officers, watch 
in hand, saying : " Blucher or nightfall ! " If Napoleon were now 
in a position to send his guards against Mont St. Jean, or against 
the shaken left wing of the English, he could not fail to gain the 

At this momentous instant the Prussian attack commenced. 
The thunder of artillery now began to sound over the battle-field 
from the east, plainly audible to both contending parties, this 
being the first intimation of the struggle which was going on at 
Wavre in the rear of Blucher' s army, between Thielmann and 
Grouchy. At the same time the first shot was fired in front of 
the wood at Frichemont. It was half -past four in the afternoon ; 
Wellington's army had had to sustain the battle unaided for five 
hours. Billow's batteries took up a position in echelon upon 
the heights in front of the wood. It was a magnificent spectacle, 
the way in which the brigades of the fourth corps, with drums 
sounding and banners flying, advanced, one after the other, out 
of the wood, and, passing between the batteries, made their way 
downwards into the plain towards Planchenoit. In the ever-young 
heart of Gneisenau, the impression produced on this occasion 
by the wild poesy of war was magical, and even in his official 
reports of the battle he could not refrain from dwelling upon the 
glorious characteristics of this spectacle. 

The hero of Dennewitz did his best to atone for the errors 
of June 15th and i6th, leading the attack with admirable cool- 
ness, as in the great days of the northern army. At the very 
beginning of the struggle fell the universally-loved Colonel 
Schwerin, the man who a year earlier had brought the news of 
victory to the capital. Lobau's corps was forced back, and the 
Prussians advanced irresistibly to Planchenoit. Somewhat later, 
towards six o'clock, (ieneral Zieten had reached Chain with 
the advance-guard of the first corps, and then, as soon as he had 
received information of the pressing need of the English left wing, 
quickly advanced upon the outposts of La Haye and Papclotte, 
where Durutte's division had just installed itself. Prince Bernard 
of Weimar, with the remnants of his troops, was retreating into 
the protecting wood of Soignes, when Prussian reinforcements 
arrived ; by the prolonged and unequal struggle his valiant 
Nassaucrs had been completely incapacitated for further fighting. 
Steinmetz's brigade now drove the French out of both the 
outposts, the Brandenburg dragoons charged the retreating 


Belle Alliance 

forces, the fire of the batteries of the first corps swept the 
enemy's right wing, and the terrible news spread as far as the 
French centre that upon the right all was lost. 

By seven o'clock Napoleon's defeat was unquestionable. 
His left wing had again and again vainly attacked the chateau 
of Hougomont ; in the centre, the great cavalry onslaught had 
failed ; upon the right and in the rear, the Prussians were 
pressing nearer and nearer from two directions. It was no longer 
possible to maintain the solitary gain of the last phases of the 
struggle, the farmstead of La Haye Sainte. By a well-timed 
retreat, at least half the army might still be saved. It was, 
however, a necessary outcome of the Imperator's character and 
of his desperate political situation, that he should despise this 
way out, and should venture a third general attack, on this 
occasion on both sides simultaneously. At seven o'clock he sum- 
moned the twenty-four battalions of his guard, retaining only two 
in hand as a last reserve, and despatching twelve to Planchenoit 
against Biilow. The remaining ten were to be led by Ney in a 
fresh attack against the English centre, but on this occasion 
on the western side of the high-road, as far as possible from 
Zieten's force. With shouts of acclamation the battalions rode 
past the Imperator at Belle Alliance ; it was their task to decide 
the victory. Then they rode down into the sinister basin where 
thick masses of dead men and dead horses indicated the road of 
death to the French cavalry ; to the sound of the drums, they 
galloped on, regardless of the fire of the English batteries, and 
mounted the slope immediately in front of the British guards. 
Maitland's grenadiers were hidden there in the grass. When the 
first bear-skin caps appeared over the hill, there resounded Wel- 
lington's urgent command : " Up, Guards, and at 'em ! " At 
once before the eyes of the dismayed French there rose a red wall, 

fe long line of the Enghsh guards, a terrible salvo was fired, at 
range of a few paces, into the attacking ranks. There was a 
■ brief and fierce hand-to-hand fight, and then the blues were driven 
back down the declivity by the reds, at the point of the bayonet. 
Key's horse, struck by a bullet, collapsed under its rider, and 
the French guards fled when they saw their leader fall. Ney, 
however, disengaged himself from his beast, sprang to his feet, 
and with an angry exclamation endeavoured to rally the routed 
men. Vainly, however, for meanwhile the other battaUons had 
come between two fires on the left and were also retreating. 

I he imperial guard broke up ; its unhappy commander wandered 

History of Germany 

bare-headed upon the battle-field, with broken sword, vainly seeking 
a bullet which should relieve him from the pangs of conscience 
and from his gloomy anticipations. 

Blucher meanwhile had led the attack which determined the 
annihilation of the Napoleonic army. Billow's troops advanced 
in three columns upon Planchenoit, at the storming-pace. In 
and near the village were twelve fresh battalions of the imperial 
guard ; they fought with the greatest courage, for all felt that 
here was the decisive issue of the whole war. The advancing 
Prussians were exposed, without protection, in the open field, 
to the bullets of the defending force, which was concealed in the 
houses and behind the high walls of the churchyard. The last 
struggle was almost the bloodiest of this savage age ; in three 
and a half hours. Billow's corps lost 6,353 men, more than a fifth 
of his whole strength, proportionally as great a loss as that of 
the English army during the entire battle. The first and the 
second attack were repulsed ; then Gneisenau himself led the 
Silesian and Pomeranian regiments in the third attack, and at 
length, towards eight o'clock, this proved successful. There 
was a last fierce resistance in the village street ; and then the 
guard fled in wild disorder ; pursued by Major Keller with the 
fusiUers of the 15th regiment, and then by other battalions. 
Along the whole line there sounded in long-drawn notes the 
beautiful signal to advance of the Prussian bugles. Simul- 
taneously, farther to the north, Lobau's corps was attacked by 
Billow's troops in front and by Zieten's cavalry on the flank, and 
was completely routed. Here the two portions of the Prussian 
army effected a junction ; the terrible girdle which was to 
surround the right wing of the French upon three sides, was 
closed. The English pressed on from the north, the Prussians 
from the east and from the south. Grolman indicated to 
Zieten's troops the way to the height behind the French centre, 
to the farm of La Belle Alliance, which with its white walls was 
as conspicuous as a lighthouse, looking down across the low-lying 
country. Thither also did the victors of Planchenoit take their 

More than 40,000 Prussians had already taken part in the 
struggle ; and now, when the work was nearly finished, Pirch's 
army-corps came down from the heights behind Planchenoit. 
During this last hour Napoleon had hastened to La Haye Sainte, 
in order to urge Quiot's division to make yet another attempt 
upon Mont St. Jean. As soon as he noticed Ney's defeat upon 


Belle Alliance 

the left and at the same time the break-up of the whole of the 
right wing, he said despairingly : " Tout est perdu ; sauve qui peut ! " 
He then hastened back along the high-road, not without great 
danger, for the road was already commanded with a severe cross 
fire by the EngUsh army and by Zieten's batteries. 

Wellington contemplated the terrible confusion in silence, 
immovable, with wonderful self-command. Not only was his 
army utterly exhausted, but also its tactical organisation was 
completely broken up ; by the prolonged struggle all sections 
of the troops had been shaken inextricably together ; from 
the remnants of the two magnificent cavalry brigades of Pon- 
sonby and Somerset no more than two squadrons could be 
assembled. There was no possibiUty of sustaining another decisive 
battle with such troops. The duke was well aware that it was 
only the appearance of the Prussians which had preserved him 
from an unmistakable defeat ; his repeated urgent messages to 
Blucher leave no doubt about this matter, but he owed the last 
satisfaction to the military honour of his valiant troops ; and 
moreover he foresaw with statesmanlike intelUgence how much 
more important would be England's word in the peace negotia- 
tions if it could be beUeved that the British arms alone had 
played a decisive part in the struggle. For this reason, as soon 
as he saw the whole of the French right wing exposed to the 
Prussian attack, he advanced all the available remnants of his 
army a Uttle further. In this last advance, the Hanoverian 
colonel Halkett drove before him the only two squares of the 
imperial guard which still held together, and with his own hands 
took prisoner their general, Cambronne. But the forces of the 
wearied men were soon exhausted, and they got only a little beyond 
Belle AUiance. Wellington, having saved appearances, left the 
further pursuit entirely to the Prussians, who in any case were 
earest to the enemy. The beaten forces were in a condition of 
bsolute panic ; no orders were Ustened to any longer, everyone 
thought only of his own miserable life. Infantry and cavalry 
confusedly intermingled, the broken up masses streamed south- 
^ ward along and beside the high-road. The drivers cut the traces 
iimd rode off on the horses, so that of the two hundred and forty 
guns, all but twenty-seven fell into the hands of the conqueror. 
Even the call I'empereur, which hitherto had instantly opened 
every road for the imperial carriage, now lost its charm ; Napoleon, 

■although he was ill and could hardly keep his seat, had to escape 
on horseback. It was only in order to save the colours that a 
I 191 

History of Germany 

few of the faithful still continued to fight ; four were lost in the 
battle but all the others were saved. Never in history was a 
brave army so suddenly thrown into complete disorder. After the 
superhuman exertions of the day, all courage of body and vigour 
of will collapsed in a moment ; the obscurity of the night, the 
superior strength of the conquerors, the extent of the attack, and 
the relentless pursuit, increased the confusion. A further decisive 
factor was that in this army, notwithstanding its stormy courage, 
there was lacking moral greatness. What held these mutineers 
together ? Nothing but the beUef in their hero. Now that his 
star had paled, they were merely an undisciplined mob. 

The sun had already sunk behind thick clouds when the two 
commanders met a little to the south of the farmstead of Belle 
Alliance ; they embraced one another cordially, the self-contained 
man of forty and the ardent grey-head. Gneisenau was close at 
hand. Now at length there had been gained the complete victory 
such as Gneisenau had often looked for in vain from Schwarzen- 
berg ; now at length had come complete repa5mient for all the 
hatred and all the shame of those horrible seven years. His heart 
sang within him, there came to his mind thoughts of the most 
magnificent of the Frederician battle-fields, over which he had often 
ridden when in garrison in Silesia. " Is it not just like Leuthen? " 
he said to Bardeleben, and regarded him with sparkling eyes. In 
truth, just as long ago at Leuthen, the trumpeters were blowing 
Nun danket alle Gott, and the soldiers were joining in. Gneisenau, 
however, thought also of the night of terror after the battle of 
Jena, of those hours in the wood of Webicht when he had shared 
the deadly anxiety of a beaten army, and had experienced the 
elemental force of a nocturnal pursuit. More thoroughly than on 
the Katzbach was the victory to be utiHsed to-day. " We have 
shown," he exclaimed, " how to conquer ; now we will show how 
to pursue." He ordered Bardeleben to keep upon the heels of the 
fugitives with a battery, continually shooting after them at hap- 
hazard in the darkness, so that the enemy could rest nowhere. 
He took under his own immediate command whatever troops 
were available : Brandenburg uhlans and dragoons, and infantry 
of the 15th and 25th and of the ist Pomeranian regiments ; the 
elder Prince William, who led the reserve cavalry of Biilow's corps, 
joined him. 

In this way the savage pursuit raged along the road 
throughout the night ; the fugitives could rest nowhere. Not 
until Genappe, where the road crosses the valley of the Dyle by 


Belle Alliance 

a narrow bridge, did the fragments of the imperial guard endeavour 
to attack the uhlans ; but towards eleven o'clock, directly they 
heard the Prussian infantry advancing to the assault, they broke 
up once more. Here General Lobau and more than 2,000 men 
were taken prisoners ; Napoleon's carriage with his hat and sword 
were also seized. What a surprise came when the cushions of the 
seats were lifted ; the great adventurer had wished to secure 
means for himself in case of fhght, and had filled the carriage with 
gold and precious stones. The poor Pomeranian peasant lads were 
as perplexed by the brilliants as had long ago been the Swiss at 
Grandson by the jewels of the duke of Burgundy ; many of them 
sold valuable stones for a few groschen. The Imperator's beautiful 
plate was retained by the officers of the 25th, and was given by 
them to the favourite daughter of their king as a table ornament. 

After a brief halt, Gneisenau and Prince William continued 
the pursuit. Across the Dyle the French beUeved themselves to 
be in safety, and had arranged to bivouac. At least seven times 
they were driven away from their fires by the i>ersistent Prussians, 
When the infantry could pursue no further, Gneisenau made a 
drummer mount a captured horse and beat his drum with all his 
might while the pursuit was continued with the uhlans and about 
fifty fusiliers who were still able to keep going. What a number 
of squads of the French ran away from the sound of this single 
drum ! The road was littered with arms, knapsacks, and all kinds 
of discarded articles, as had once been the road from Rosbach to 
Erfurt. At dawn the pursuers reached the battle-field of Quatre 
Bras, and only when they had crossed this did they stop from 
exhaustion at Frasnes, after sunrise. They had increased the 
dispersal of the hostile army to complete dismemberment, so that 
of the French fighters at Belle Alhance only 10,000 men, in utterly 
disorganised masses, subsequently assembled in Paris. 

Blucher proudly thanked his incomparable army, which had 
rendered possible what all great commanders had hitherto 
regarded as impossible : "As long as history lasts, your memory 
will persist. Upon you, the unshakable pillars of the Prussian 
monarchy, rests secure the fortune of your king and of his house. 
H* Never shall Prussia be overthrown if your sons and grandsons 
" resemble you ! " To Stein he wrote simply : "I hope, my 
honourable friend, that you will be satisfied with me," and 

I expressed the desire " to live out quietly in the country " his 
remaining years, as Stein's neighbour. He ordered that the battle 
should be known as " La Belle Alliance," the significant name of 
193 o 

History of Germany 

the farm where the two conquerors had met, " by the favour of 
fortune ; and in commemoration of the alliance which now exists 
between the British and the Prussian nations, an alliance dictated 
by the very nature of things ; in commemoration of the union 
of the two armies and the mutual trust of the two commanders." 
Wellington would not yield to this fine thought, which gave well- 
deserved honour to both nations. The battle must appear as his 
victory, and therefore he christened it after the name of the 
village of Waterloo, where there had been no fighting at all ; for 
there he had spent the night of June 17th, and from the days of 
the Spanish campaign he had been accustomed to name his vic- 
tories after the site of his last headquarters. Whereas Gneisenau's 
report of the battle gave a straightforward and modest description 
of the actual course of events, as far as this was already known, 
the duke's report made it appear as if his last feint-attack had 
decided the issue, and as if the Prussians had merely afforded an 
unquestionably valuable assistance. Fortunately, little was as 
yet manifest of these characteristics of English friendly alliance. 
The relationship between the soldiers of the two armies remained 
thoroughly amicable ; the vaHant Highlanders who on the battle- 
field embraced the men of the Prussian four-and-twentieth, had 
joined with them in singing Heil dir im Siegerkranz, troubling them- 
selves httle about whose services were the greatest. 

In the homeland, the unhappy news of Ligny had caused 
profound dismay ; the people already began to foresee a new 
age of unending wars. All the more passionate was the joy when 
the news of victory arrived. How suddenly had the relationships 
of power between the two neighbour peoples been changed ! 
Now the Germans met the enemy across the frontier ; half the 
Prussian army and a part of the North German contingent sufficed, 
in conjunction with about 60,000 EngHshmen and Netherlanders, 
to defeat the French army ; inevitably the thought sprang to life 
that Prussia alone, without Austria, would be strong enough to 
master this ill neighbour if only all the other German states would 
join Prussia. Gneisenau declared with satisfaction : " The French 
do not merely fear, they now actually know, that we are 
stronger than they." In consciousness of such energy, the nation 
like one man demanded a relentless utilisation of the victory, 
and the complete liberation of the German river. A contem- 
porary poet wrote : 

That chain of frontier forts by Vauban built for France — 
Seize them for Germany I " 


Belle Alliance 

Yet never does the imperfection of all human activity dis- 
play itself more conspicuously than in war. One last success 
which still seemed possible eluded the Prussians, and, as the 
officers considered, not without blame attaching to the two most 
learned men of the army. Grouchy's force escaped annihilation. 
On June i8th, when the marshal advanced against Wavre, Thiel- 
mann checked him at the Dyle, in the evening, by a bold and 
courageously led fight. In the early morning of June 19th 
Grouchy made a further attack, and Thielmann, who had only 
three brigades at his disposal against the superior force of the 
enemy, retreated upon Louvain. His chief of staff, the talented 
Clausewitz, considered the position more serious than it really 
was, and retreated too far to the north. Consequently when the 
French, on receiving the terrible news of Belle Alliance, suddenly 
turned and hastily retraced their steps to the Sambre, the Prussians 
had lost touch with them and could no longer get at them. 
Meanwhile the main army had also initiated an undertaking 
against Grouchy. When General Pirch, late in the evening of 
June i8th, reached Planchenoit, and found the battle already 
almost over, there occurred to Aster, his chief of staff, the fortunate 
idea that the second corps must now move eastward, in order, 
as circumstances might dictate, to pursue Grouchy's army or to 
cut oft its retreat. In this proposal he merely suggested what he 
was immediately afterwards ordered to do by Gneisenau. The 
task offered great difficulties. The corps had been weakened 
by the fight of Ligny, and by the detachment of several bodies 
of troops, so that it now numbered only 16,000 men, its strength 
being half that which it had possessed three days earUer ; the 
soldiers were utterly weary ; and nothing definite was known as 
to Grouchy's position. It is not surprising that the night march 
was a slow one ; yet had his staff been sufficiently alert, the general 
would have been able to learn on the jgth where Grouchy was. 
But this activity was lacking. Not until June 20th did news 
arrive that in the previous night, without a shot being fired, the 
marshal had made his way to the Sambre, passing not far from the 
outposts, and had thus had the luck to slip through between 
the two corps of Pirch and Thielmann. Pirch hastened after 
him, encountered the rear-guard at Namur, and took the town 
after a sanguinary fight at the gates ; but Grouchy's main force 
was already in safety. The result was that, for the time being, 
the French still possessed a tolerably well-ordered force of 30,000 
^jnen, which perhaps might constitute the nucleus for a new army.f 

B 195 


History of Germany 

The two commanders-in-chief speedily came to an under- 
standing as to a common invasion of France, in which the Prus- 
sians were again to take the lead ; but in this resolution they were 
guided by fundamentally different intentions. Blucher simply 
wished to complete the overthrow of the detested land, until the 
monarchs could make further arrangements ; Wellington desired 
to restore the legitimate king to the Tuileries as speedily as 
possible. How much more advantageous was the Englishman's 
poUtical position ! Whilst Blucher, ignorant of the designs of 
his court, had to content himself with forbidding his generals 
any official intercourse with the Bourbons, Wellington, uncon- 
cerned about the wishes of his ally, quietly moved forward 
towards his definite goal, and demanded of the court at Ghent 
that it should follow the EngUsh army. 

The decisive issue of the war had occurred with such 
wonderful speed that those powers which did not desire a new 
restoration could make no preparations to meet the altered 
situation. King Louis was still the king of France, recognised 
by all the powers ; the whole diplomatic corps had accompanied 
him to Ghent, and the representations of the foreign statesmen 
were fortunately able to overcome the dangerous influence of 
Count Blacas, and to induce the king to assume a more moderate 
attitude. A first unwise and arrogant proclamation was succeeded 
on June 28th by a second, full of friendly assurances. The 
Bourbon promised that he would henceforward place himself 
between the allied and the French armies " in the hope that the 
deference paid to me will turn to the advantage of France " ; 
he solemnly pledged himself not to re-establish tithes and 
seigneurial rights, and not to demand the return of the national 
goods. Wellington did not hesitate to declare to the peace 
deputation sent to him by the capital, that the conqueror's 
conditions would be very much harder if the nation did not 
summon back its king. Strangely enough, Pozzo di Borgo, the 
Russian ambassador, eagerly supported the efforts of the English 
commander ; and did this altogether on his own initiative, for at 
that time the czar was thinking of promoting the accession of the 
duke of Orleans. It was Pozzo's hope that through favouring the 
cause of the Bourbon he might for years to come be the most 
powerful man in the Tuileries. A portion of the possessing classes 
was also inclined to the view that a new restoration was the only 
possible issue from the hopeless confusion, and that in especial 
it would be advantageous to the position of France in Europe. 


Belle Alliance 

This was a matter of cool calculation which had nothing to do with 
any sentiments of dynastic loyalty. 

The Imperator had immediately to learn that France had 
no place for an unlucky Napoleon. Acting on the advice of his 
entourage, on June 20th he left the army, which was his sole 
support, and hastened to Paris ; there he found himself so 
utterly abandoned by all the world that, two days later, he 
abdicated in favour of his son. The provisional government 
which had constituted itself under the leadership of the cunning 
Fouche, no longer regarded the words of the fallen man. Full of 
anxious doubts, he remained for a few days at Malmaison, where 
formerly the divorced Josephine had Uved in soUtude, and vainly 
offered the government his services as a simple general. At length 
he perceived that the game was finished; the thought of getting 
control of the wheel of state with the aid of the Jacobin 
confederates in the suburbs, seemed to the despot too unsol- 
dierly. At the approach of the Prussians he left Paris, on June 
29th, and hastened to the coast at Rochefort. The great play- 
actor now threw his toga into artistic folds, declared to the prince 
regent that he came like Themistocles to seek protection at the 
hospitable fireside of his magnanimous enemy, and on July 15th 
went on board the English line-of-battle ship " Bellerophon." 
Hardenberg now learned with satisfaction that the proposal he had 
himself so often made was approved without hesitation by all 
the powers ; nothing remained but to keep the dangerous man in 
safe custody far from Europe. Upon the lonely fortress-island 
of St. Helena the prisoner provided for himself with his own hands 
such a punishment as even his bitterest enemy could hardly have 
conceived. This titanic life came to a rogue's end. He filled his 
last years with idle quarrels and the professional diffusion of 
Hpcolossal lies ; he himself withdrew the veil from the boundless 
vulgarity of the giant spirit of the man who had once been so 
audacious as to set his foot upon the world's neck. 

Not without difficulty did the two commanders come to an 
agreement concerning the fate of Napoleon. The contrast 
between the British and the German policy was displayed 
throughout. WelUngton desired to spare the feelings of the 
French as much as possible, and since at heart he remained abso- 
lutely cold, he recognised rightly that it ill became the con- 
querors to besmirch their victory by a deed of violence. In 
Blucher's headquarters, on the other hand, the old hatred flamed 
^violently forth ; so many Germans had met their deaths through 


History of Germany 

the fault of this one man ! Blucher had gone so far as to deter- 
mine that if he could capture the evil-doer, he would have him 
shot in the fortress of Vincennes, on the very spot where the duo 
d'Enghien had formerly been murdered ; otherwise what was 
the meaning of the Viennese declaration of outlawry against the 
disturber of the pubUc peace ? Only upon Wellington's urgent 
request did he abandon the savage plan, acquiescing in the 
" theatrical magnanimity," as Gneisenau bitterly wrote, " out of 
respect for the character of the duke and — out of weakness." 
On the other hand, the Prussian commander insisted that the 
march must be continued as far as Paris, whereas the Englishman 
would have preferred to spare the capital this fresh humiliation, 
and wished to allow his Bourbon protege to enter alone. Blucher 
stood firm, imposing such harsh conditions upon the peace envoys 
from Paris that the continuation of the war was unavoidable. 

The Prussian army pushed on irresistibly, far in advance of 
the Enghsh. Siege operations were vigorously pressed, so that 
fourteen fortresses had to open their gates to the Germans. 
Ever3rwhere the populace displayed intense hostiUty ; the French 
persisted in believing that this new war of the coalition was a 
monstrous injustice. The Prussians, too, behaved more harshly 
than in the previous year. Gneisenau hoped that on the Oise he 
would be able to cut off Grouchy's army from Paris. He did not 
succeed ; but by his persistent pursuit, the marshal's troops were 
broken up almost as completely as had been the conquered French 
after Belle Alliance. Major Frankenhausen, the bold military 
adventurer, gave them no rest, maintaining now the ancient glories 
of the Prussian cavalry which hitherto in this war had Uttle 
opportunity of distinguishing itself. In the battles of Compiegne 
and Villers-Cotterets the French made but a feeble resistance. 
It was in dispersed fragments that the conquered reached the 
capital. With their accession, the force commanded by Davoust, 
the military governor of Paris, now amounted to over 70,000 men, 
but what could be expected from these discouraged and undis- 
ciplined hordes ? On June 29th Blucher reached Gonesse, a few 
hours' march to the north of Paris ; the charming basin of the 
Seine lay before him. His army had traversed the one hundred and 
sixty miles from the Belgian battle-field in eleven days, resting but 
one day on the march. 

Here, in the headquarters at Gonesse, there came a bad time 
for Gneisenau. What draws all our hearts to the image of this 
great Gennan is that in everything he was so simply human, and 


Belle Alliance 

for this reason on occasion he could be humanly bitter and unjust. 
So was it with him to-day. He knew that he had been the real 
commander in this war, that the saving idea of the junction of the 
two armies had sprung from his head alone. Now he had to 
learn how the allies praised Wellington as the leading hero ; this 
Englishman, who had indeed displayed upon the battle-field great 
circumspection and tenacity, but who in the conduct of the cam- 
paign had heaped error upon error. Gneisenau became pro- 
foundly embittered when he reflected upon his inglorious and 
inconspicuous activities, upon all the distresses of recent years 
which he had so long borne in silence ; how he had been the sport 
of fate from childhood upwards. He had been bom at Schilda, 
the Saxon Abdera, amid the confusion of the war-camp of the 
imperial army, among the enemies of Prussia ; Prussian cannons 
were the child's lullaby, and during the nocturnal retreat after the 
battle of Torgau he would have perished under the hoofs of the 
horses, had not a compassionate grenadier picked jhim up out 
of danger. Thereupon followed the weary, joyless time when as 
a barefooted lad he had to herd geese in Schilda, until at length his 
Catholic relatives in Wiirzburg took pity on him. The homeless 
man never really knew to what German stock, or to what Church, 
he properly belonged. Next came the wild, mad days of student 
life in Erfurt, a brief period of service in the Austrian cavalry, 
and a journey to America with the unhappy men whom the 
margarve of Ansbach sold to the British. Next he entered the 
Prussian service, at the outset with brilUant, exaggerated hopes, 
then to endure once more the utter futiUty of Ufe as a subaltern, 
so miserable, so depressing, that this fiery sprit, which had once 
almost consumed itself in its own ardency, was in danger 
of degenerating into phiUstinism. But now, when a world- 
transforming destiny broke over Prussia, in Gneisenau, genius 
sprang to Ufe ; it was through his work that the discouraged 
army gained the first success, and since Schamhorst's death there 
had been no one to compare with Gneisenau. What was his 
reward ? The officers of the general staff who in daily intercourse 
experienced the magic of his genius, could not fail to know what 
Germany possessed in this man ; it seemed to them that they 
stood in a topsy-turvy world when they saw this born leader of 
men standing humbly beside the czar with his plumed hat in his 
hand. Yet when the soldiers greeted old Blucher with thunderous 
hurrahs, they hardly noticed the unknown general standing beside 
the field-marshal. Biilow had engraved his name in the tablets 


History of Germany 

of history ; but of Gneisenau they knew nothing. He believed 
himself to be older than all the generals of infantry ; and still 
remained no more than lieutenant-general ; he had never led an 
independent command, and had received neither the order of the 
black eagle, nor that of the great iron cross. The king did not 
love him, the ill-natured gossip among the people of the court 
never ceased ; he felt so little secure of his position in the army 
that, shortly before, he had begged the chancellor to give him, 
when peace came, the position of postmaster-general. Vanity was 
far from his mind ; how often did he speak of himself as a mere 
soldier favoured by fortune ; but once at least his discontent had 
to find expression. In a single day, in a towering rage, he wrote 
to the chancellor three letters full of violent complaints, accusing 
in his anger even Stein and Blucher of ingratitude.^ It was not 
long before the king did him ample justice ; he subsequently 
wore the star which had been found in Napoleon's carriage. 
Yet the majority of his contemporaries never assigned to him 
the historic renown to which he was in truth entitled ; it was 
only a later generation of his countrymen which recognised his 
greatness, and even to this day the French are not aware who 
was the greatest commander of aUied Europe. 

The ill-humour passed over Gneisenau's free spirit like a 
fugitive cloud. On this same June 30th the hero was once more 
fully himself when he laid before the two commanders his plan 
for taking the capital. Whilst Biilow kept the tolerably well- 
fortified north side of Paris busy by feint-attacks, Blucher 
marched to the right with the rest of the army, crossed the Seine 
below the town, and moved to attack the place from the south ; 
on July 2nd Biilow was relieved by the arrival of the English, 
and followed the field-marshal. The last fights on the open 
southern side of the city were left once more entirely to the 
Prussians. Vainly did Davoust, in a letter couched in moving 
terms, beg for a truce. The marshal's contention that after the 
fall of Napoleon there was no longer any reason for the war, 
sounded to the German commander hke mockery ; in a per- 
emptory reply he demanded that the detested oppressor of German 
citizens should capitulate : " Do you wish to bring upon yourself 
the maledictions of Paris, as you have already brought those of 
Hamburg ? " A skirmish in which his favourite arm came off 
badly, profoundly grieved old Blucher. The veteran Branden- 
burg and Pomeranian hussars, six hundred and fifty horse under 
^ Gneisenau to Hardonberg, three letters from Goncssc, Juno 30, 1815. 


Belle Alliance 

the leadership of Sohr, fell into an ambush at Versailles, set by the 
eleven cavalry regiments of General Excelman ; when they took 
to flight, they found their way into a blind alley, between high 
walls, in the village of Chesnoy. One-third of them cut their way 
out, but most of the others were killed. Among them was the 
youthful volunteer, Heinrich von York, the general's favourite son ; 
when the enemy offered him quarter, he shouted out : " My name 
is York ! " and went on fighting until he was killed. Thus the 
iron man who had begun the German war had to pay once more 
with his heart's blood just before the ultimate victory. 

On July 2nd Zieten's corps, after a severe fight, made its 
way on to the plateau of Meudon. During the following night, 
the wild Vandamme, endeavouring to reconquer this position 
from Issy, was completely defeated ; the superiority of the 
Prussian arms was so manifest that on the next morning Davoust 
declared himself prepared to surrender. Blucher sent down 
Miiffling to negotiate. He had once in Blucher's name signed 
the never-to-be-forgotten capitulation of Ratkau ; since then 
Blucher had never been able to look upon him without sui> 
pressed anger, and now sent him to arrange another capitulation 
so that the old blot might be wiped from his scutcheon. The 
town had to be evacuated within three days, and Davoust was to 
retire with the remnants of his army across the Loire. Blucher 
wrote in triumph to Knesebeck : " My day's work is completed, 
Paris is mine ! I owe everything to my brave troops, to their 
tenacity, and to my own iron will ! " Subsequently the whole of 
the west and north of the country was occupied by the aUied 
armies. With what delight did Schamhorst's son-in-law, Friedrich 
Dohna, make his cavalrymen water their horses in the Loire ; 
he thought proudly of his vaUant ancestors who, in the wars of 
the Huguenots, had also borne the terror of German arms as far 
as the walls of Blois and Orleans. 

On this occasion Blucher would not afford the detested town 
the honour of his visit, or the delightful spectacle of a ceremonial 
entry. They were to feel what war is. The regiments entered 
separately, and were all of them billeted, though the citizens 
complained bitterly of this ill-usage. The authorities and the 
inhabitants were profoundly incensed ; it seemed to them an 
incredible disgrace that in four days these Prussians had made 
an end of French military glories. The conqueror demanded the 
furnishing of two months' pay for the army, and the immediate 
delivery of two millions as a war tax ; those who complained 

20 1 

History of Germany 

were referred by him to Dam — he understood how to provide 
money. On the very first day the Danzig picture was removed 
from the Louvre by Prussian musketeers, and thus began the 
retaking of the spoil. Everything must be given up, to a single 
hair, said Blucher ; and he pursued the work in haste so that 
the accursed diplomats might not again intervene. It was only 
to the hard will of the German commander that the world owed 
it that the European scandal of the great Parisian plunder-shop 
now came to an end. Altenstein, Eichhorn, and de Groote, the 
young connoisseur of Cologne, showed the Prussian soldiers the 
stolen goods ; but notwithstanding the zeal with which the 
search was pursued by the German experts, a portion of the 
invaluable spoil was never recovered. After the Prussians had once 
set in hand the work of atonement, the other states also put in 
their claims. The manuscript treasures of the Heidelberg Pala- 
tina, which long before Tilly had removed to Rome, and sub- 
sequently Bonaparte to Paris, were at length returned to the 
Neckar. The artistic people of Florence received with songs and 
with a flower-decked procession their statues of the Gods, the 
Venus and the Apollo, when they were brought back to the magni- 
ficent Uffizi gallery. It was Blucher's wish to blow up the 
bridge of Jena, and this would have given him especial satisfac- 
tion if he could have done it while Talleyrand was on it ; only 
the intervention of the monarch held Blucher in check. 

The headquarters were established at St. Cloud. In the 
Salle de I'Orangerie, where the coup d'etat of Brumaire had once 
been carried out, the Prussian regimental tailors established their 
workshop ; on his departure the field-marshal took with him 
David's picture of Bonaparte crossing the Alps, and gave it to 
the king for the palace in Berlin, Governor Muffling ruled Paris 
with a firm hand, this applying equally to the troops and to the 
eternally complaining hosts of the billeted ; second in command was 
Colonel Pfuel, a zealous Teutoniscr, renowned in all the gymnastic 
and swimming places of the North German youth. It did not 
come amiss to the stalwart man to give a complaining French- 
man immediate satisfaction with the national weapon, the foil. 
His position was difficult among the feverishly excited people ; 
the Prussian guard-posts were frequently attacked at night ; on 
several occasions the Prussian guards had to make their way by 
force of arms into the arcades of the Palais Royal when the taunts 
of the guests in the coffee houses became too arrogant. Well- 
ington's calculated lenity afforded a remarkable contrast to 


Belle Alliance 

the severe, but by no means violent, conduct of the Prussians. 
The duke had his troops quartered in the open, in the Bois de 
Boulogne, and avoided everything which could offend Parisian 
vanity, whilst coolly completing a master-stroke of British 
diplomacy which would have done honour to the most adroit of 
the London stock-jobbers. From his point of view it seemed a 
matter of course that England's will should be alone decisive in 
this coalition war. Without even asking the allied courts, he 
arranged for the Bourbon to enter the Tuileries under the pro- 
tection of English bayonets. On the afternoon of July loth, when 
the three monarchs entered Paris, King Louis had already been 
two days re-estabhshed upon his throne, and received them as a 
courteous host. Fouche, who was quick to note which way the 
wind was blowing, had adhered to the Bourbon cause in good time, 
and saw to it that the chambers of the empire should not reas- 
semble. What availed it to refuse all Louis's invitations or that 
the Prussian guards in the Tuileries would not notice the court ? 
The second restoration had been completed by England alone ; 
none of the other powers could seriously think of re-expeUing the 
Bourbons. By this accompUshed fact, British poUcy at the same 
time frustrated the just demands of the German nation. The 
detachment of Alsace-Lorraine from France would have been 
possible if the alUes had first agreed among themselves, and had 
then summoned back the Bourbon king to the diminished king- 
dom ; it had become impossible now that it was necessary to 
negotiate on the question with a friendly monarch. With good 
reason did Hardenberg complain that the arbitrary procedure of 
the EngUshman had forced the coahtion into an " amphibious 

To the two emperors the briUiant success of the Belgian 
campaign was a surprise, and by no means an agreeable one. 
The czar's army had not been under fire at all. The Austrians and 
the South Germans, after an insignificant fight at Strasburg, began 
a lifeless investment of the fortresses of Alsace : the archduke 
John, having conquered Hiiningen almost without bloodshed, was 
honoured by the grateful Baslers like a second Napoleon. All 
the other places still held out. The populace everywhere dis- 
played fanatical hatred ; many stragglers from the allied army 
were killed with inhuman tortures. The mountain guards 
assembled in the Vosges ; after the war the people of Schlettstadt 
had the extremely mild horrors of the siege commemorated on 

^ Hardenberg's Diary, July 3, 1815. 

History of Germany 

their town-hall m pathetic pictures. In a word, Austrian military 
glories remained of an extremely modest character. Emperor 
Francis said in his wheedling way to the officers of Blucher's head- 
quarters staff : " You Prussians are devils of fellows " ; and 
Mettemich declared to Baron von Stein that after the battle of 
Ligny an Austrian army would have required at least six weeks 
in which to recover, to which Stein bluntly answered : " You see, 
then, what moral energy can do." More faithfully than in such 
civiUties were the true sentiments of the Hofburg manifested in 
the rancorous letters of Adam Miiller, who could not vent his 
wit sufficiently about " Blucher's Berlinese soldiers who were 
strutting about the boulevards of Paris imagining themselves 

The czar, too, hardly concealed how profoundly he was 
annoyed that his allies had deprived him in advance of all the 
miUtary glory. As soon as he saw that the restoration of the 
Bourbons was beyond repair, he immediately abandoned his 
Orleanist plans, endorsed Pozzo di Borgo's arbitrary procedure, and 
once more endeavoured by generosity towards France to get the 
better of his EngUsh rival. The magnanimous sympathy which 
he had made it a pleasure to display, now assumed a pecuUar 
mystical colovuing. On the journey, while at Heidelberg, he had 
JEallen into the nets of the bigoted enthusiast, Frau von Kriidener, 
who henceforward never let him escape. The nature of the cele- 
brated prophetess was fundamentally shallow ; when she died, 
Goethe exclaimed, " What a life ! Like shavings. You couldn't get 
a handful of ashes out of it for the soap-boiler ! " She knew, 
however, how to conduct herself gracefully in the fashionable 
speech and fashionable sentiments of the romantic age, and 
Alexander's heart, thirsty for love, longed for sweeter consolation 
than could be offered by the barren rationalism of his tutor 
Laharpe. In Paris, the czar was immediately received by a circle 
of ladies inspired with Christian enthusiasm, rendering homage to 
the new saviour of the world who was to found the realm of God's 
peace on earth, and who naturally, after the example of the 
Saviour, was to forget and forgive everything. It was just as 
much a matter of course that these generous intentions should 
once more coincide precisely with the reputed interests of Russian 
policy. Although Alexander, after his manner, was really a 
faithful ally of his western neighbour, it was by no means his 
desire that Prussia should become strong enough to dispense with 
Russian friendship : for this reason Germany must remain vulnerable 


Belle Alliance 

on the western frontier. Even more vigorously than in the 
previous year did the czar advocate the cause of the French, and 
he remained altogether inaccessible to the suggestions of Stein. 
Mettemich, too, quickly adapted himself to the new situation 
which Wellington's lack of consideration had brought about ; he 
immediately abandoned the idea of establishing Napoleon II 
on the throne, with which Gentz had played for a time, and 
adhered cordially to the Bourbon. Since now, as before, he was 
of the opinion that Austria must on no account resume her 
dangerous position on the Upper Rhine, he desired a speedy con- 
clusion of peace on mild terms. What did the court of Vienna 
care about the just claims of the German people ? 

Nowhere did these hopes of the Germans find warmer expres- 
sion than in the letters of the Prussian generals. Four days after 
the decisive battle, Gneisenau wrote to the chancellor : " Woe 
to them, shame to them, if they do not seize this unique oppor- 
tunity to safeguard Belgium, Prussia, Germany, to all eternity ! " 
For Belgium he demanded certain fortresses in French Flanders ; 
for Prussia, Mainz and Luxemburg, and also Nassau and 
Ansbach-Bayreuth ; Bavaria was to receive compensation in 
Alsace-Lorraine, and the House of Nassau in French Luxemburg. 
" You know better than I, what language Prussia can and must 
use. Prussia has never before stood so high ! " In a similar 
sense, Blucher begged the king " to tell the diplomatists that they 
must not lose once more what the soldier has gained at the cost 
of his blood ! " The old man, hke almost the entire German 
nation, cherished the naive belief that it would be impossible 
for the foreign powers to refuse the honourably earned reward of 
victory if only our diplomats should remain firm. The king was, 
personally speaking, in perfect harmony with the desires of his 
generals, and commissioned Gneisenau to take part beside Har- 
denberg and Humboldt as plenipotentiary at the peace congress ; 
it gave immense satisfaction to the fiery hero that Talleyrand, 
who in Vienna had incited to the war of annihilation against 
Prussia, must now encounter him as a simple negotiator on behalf 
of the conquered. The sober spirit of Frederick William recog- 
nised, however, how little this harsh struggle for power would be 
decided on rational grounds, or in accordance with the manifest 
justice of the Prussian demands ; "To pursue the interests of 
my own state alone," he wrote soothingly to the field-marshal, 
" will encounter difficulties in the concurrent interests of the 
other states." 


History of Germany 

In actual fact, the position of the Prussian negotiators was 
to-day even more unfavourable than it had been in the first peace 
congress ; in all important questions they encountered the united 
opposition of the other four powers. It is true that the old 
opponents at Vienna, the Netherlands, Baden, and Wiirtemberg, 
were on this occasion eloquent advocates of the Prussian claims, 
since it was far more important for them even than for Prussia 
that the French eastern frontier should be weakened. So 
markedly, however, had the system of the pentarchy already 
developed, that the memorials of the powers of the second rank 
were treated by the great powers as empty exercises in literary 
style, and were rarely regarded as worthy of an answer. The 
Prussian state stood alone ; the Prussian army had sacrificed 
itself heroically for the common cause of Europe, without in the 
end acquiring anything to speak of for its own country. 


When Hardenberg reached Paris on July 15th, the czar met 
him with violent reproaches regarding the undisciplined conduct 
of the Prussian army. Yet Blucher kept strict order, and 
punished relentlessly the isolated excesses of his troops. It was 
only the Netherlanders and, in accordance with their usual 
custom, the Bavarians, who could be accused of certain outbreaks 
of roughness ; sometimes, too, the intractable ill-feeling of those 
upon whom the soldiery were billeted was a contributory cause of 
misconduct. The prefect of the Seine himself incited the Parisians 
against the allies. When Miiffling had the Venetian four-horse 
chariot taken down from the Arc de Triomphe in the Place du 
Carrousel, the workmen were several times driven away by the 
mob and by the body-guard of the Bourbon, until at length an 
Austrian battalion restored order. The chancellor immediately 
realised that the accusations directed by the czar against the 
Prussians, and the Prussians alone, masked a definite intention, 
and that this was to represent the Prussians as drunk with the pride 
of victory ; moreover, their warlike renown was diligently mini- 
mised and disputed. 

In the great council of ministers there sat : Nesselrode, 
Capodistrias, and Pozzo ; Castlereagh, Wellington, and Stewart ; 
Mettemich, Wesscnberg, and Schwarzenberg — and there was 
not one of them who displayed a friendly disposition towards the 
three Prussian plenipotentiaries. The presidential power of the 


Belle Alliance 

new Germanic Federation at first adopted an attitude of reserve, 
for it could not venture to contradict too obviously the unanimous 
desire of the German nation ; on the other hand, it did nothing 
at all to support the demand for the restoration of the Vosges 
frontier. Gentz from the first spoke with poisonous mockery of 
the " narrow-minded views " of the Prussians who wished to 
derive a selfish advantage from the war against the revolution. 
The proposal of Stein and of his friends that Alsace should be 
given to the archduke Charles, served merely to arouse the hostility 
of the emperor Francis, who always cherished a deep mistrust of 
this brother. 

Between the two rivals, Russia and England, there now 
ensued a vigorous competition for the reward of generosity ; both 
powers hoped to secure the friendship of France in view of the 
threatening eastern compUcations. Among the British, too, 
there was operative the memory of the compact of January 3rd 
and of the entente cordiale which had then been established ; 
but the main factor in their conduct was the spiritual narrowness 
pecuHar to the high tories. It was impossible for these islanders 
to attain to the wide outlooks of continental pohcy. Castlereagh 
frankly declared : " If we can take measures for the next five or 
seven years, the best has been effected that we can hope from 
diplomacy." The conquerors determined not to begin negotia- 
tions with the crown of France until they had come to an under- 
standing among themselves. The unhappy land lay disarmed at 
the feet of the conqueror. Everywhere prevailed the frenzy of 
partisan hatred : in Paris there was profound hostiUty towards 
the king, the protege of the foreigners ; in the south there was 
already beginning a civil war, the fierce struggle of the White 
Terror. In addition, the remnants of the Napoleonic army were 
now dissolved, upon Alexander's advice, because the czar wished 
to prove to the allies that there was no longer an enemy opposed 
to them and that the hour of forgiveness had arrived. The country 
was not in a position to offer any kind of opposition to the condi- 
tions of the conquerors. All the more difficult was it for the con- 
querors to arrive at an understanding among themselves. The 
deliberations were on this occasion as stormy as the negotiations 
for the first peace of Paris had been easy. For two entire months 
the Prussian statesmen carried on a diplomatic struggle against 
the whole of Europe, until at length they had to give way, and 
then, after the powers had come to their decision, the peace 
negotiation with France was*opened. 


History of Germany 

As early as July 15th, Castlereagh had laid down the prin- 
ciples from which the allies ought to start ^ : "To discredit or 
weaken the prestige of King Louis, is tantamount to the diminu- 
tion of the power of the alUes themselves." It was also the duty 
of the powers to treat the nation with forbearance and concilia- 
tion, whilst the king should be supported in the reconstruction 
of the army and in the suppression of the conspirators. In sharp 
contrast with this view, in which the conqueror of Belle Alliance 
was regarded as no more than the devoted police officer of the 
Most Christian King, were the demands expressed by Harden- 
berg on July 22nd.* Three aims, he said, have to be attained 
by this peace : a guarantee for the peace of Europe ; indemnifica- 
tion for the cost of the war ; finally, the carrying out of the 
promises which were given at the first peace. The peace of 
the world can be secured only by the weakening of the eastern 
frontier of France, for the French will display themselves as hostile 
immediately our army is withdrawn. The last war had mani- 
fested the vulnerability of the Netherlands, just as the military 
weakness of High Germany was proved by the Napoleonic cam- 
paigns. Consequently the Netherlands must be strengthened by 
taking over a number of French fortresses ; Alsace must be 
restored to Germany, and its fortresses garrisoned by Austria ; 
Prussia must receive the fortresses on the Saar and the Upper 
Moselle ; Switzerland must be given a border fortress in the Jura ; 
Piedmont should have the whole of Savoy. From Dunkirk as far 
as Chamb^ry and the lakes of Savoy, a strip of land many miles 
wide, running along the whole of the eastern frontier, and including 
the three chains of fortresses constructed by Vauban, must be 
ceded, as was shown in detail by a map from the chancellery. 

Just as throughout this war Prussia had displayed uncal- 
culating self-sacrifice for the common cause of Europe, so now 
Hardenberg demanded very little directly for his own state as 
the reward of victory ; no more than Metz, Diedenhofen, and 
Saarlouis. Even Gneisenau had speedily recognised how strong 
was the general mistrust of Prussia, and therefore now advised 
that more should be asked for the Netherlands, Austria, and 
South Germany, than for Prussia herself. To the British, matters 
must be represented in this way ; that thus Prussia could be 
safeguarded in the west, and would consequently be better able to 

* Castlereagh. Mcmorandam of July 5, 1815. 

' Hardenberg, Memorial concerning the principles to be acted u|)on by the 
Committee of Four, July 22, 1815. 


Belle Alliance 

make head against Russia.^ Finally, the chancellor suggested as 
possible that the Burgundian Franche Comte should be detached 
from France, since this urgently longed for its ancient freedom. 
In the general confusion of those days there were displayed isolated 
centrifugal tendencies which had long been supposed defunct. 
Even from Lyons envoys came to Emperor Francis begging that 
the town should be separated from France as an independent 
republic. In Franche Comte, the old Hapsburg traditions were 
still active ; Besan9on, the birth-place of Granvelle, preserved 
in every street memories of the golden days of Charles V, and over 
the doors of the town-hall there still flaunted the eagle with the 
proud and ancient Deo ct CcBsari, semper fidelis. But all this 
signified Uttle ; the war of annihilation waged by the Convention 
against the provinces had ended in a complete victory of the unity 
of the state. In all the regions whose return was demanded by 
Hardenberg, the great majority of the people cherished hostile 
sentiments towards the allies. The only exception was the loyal 
Saarbriicken, which had twice ceremonially greeted the chan- 
cellor upon his journeys, and had subsequently urgently petitioned 
for union with Prussia ; » even the neighbouring Saarlouis, the 
home of Ney, was fanatically French in sentiment. 

With regard to the question of war indemnity, Hardenberg 
remembered the vain and fooUsh generosity displayed by Prussia 
in the previous year, and declared : "It would be preposterous 
to act in this way again." Although the timid Altenstein had 
counselled him to content himself with 800,000,000 francs, » Har- 
denberg demanded the payment of 1,200,000,000 francs ; out of this 
came 200,000,000, first of all, for each of the conquerors of Paris, 
Prussia and England. The account given by the chancellery 
proceeded to show that France in the years from 1806 to 1812 
had taken from Prussia alone 1,228,000,000 francs — an estimate 
which was considerably more than 300,000,000 below the truth.* 
Finally, a European commission must provide for the return of the 
art treasures and for the fulfilment of the other still unfulfilled 
promises of the previous year. The Prussian proposals were 
severe, but thoroughly just, in view of the complete overthrow 
of the Napoleonic army and of the unteachable hostiUty of the 
French. It was unfortunate that the renunciation which the 

1 Gneisenau to Hardenberg, July 27, 1815. 

2 Hardenberg's Diary, July ii, 1815. 

^ Altenstein's Memorial concerning the Contribution, Paris, July 21, 1815. 
* Vide supra. Vol. I, pp. 375 and 460. 

209 P 

History of Germany 

Prussian state displayed on its own behalf would render it difficult 
to safeguard the desired booty ; for who but Prussia could 
manage with a strong hand the refractory Alsatians during the 
difficult time of transition, and until a new and good German 
generation had grown to maturity ? Since Austria obstinately 
renounced her ancient inheritance, the most extraordinary proposals 
were made ; one of them was that there should be a federal 
state with forty members, under the crown prince of Wiirtemberg. 
Gagem even desired that Alsace should join the Swiss con- 
federacy, this while close at hand in France were 100,000 ran- 
corous Napoleonic veterans. What a prospect for the future ! 

Meanwhile, however, this objection, the only valid one that 
could be made against Hardenberg's proposals, hardly received 
from the opposing party even a cursory attention. The great 
memorial which on July 28th was handed in by Capodistrias moved 
rather in the airy regions of political romanticism, since Russia 
could not reveal the true aims of her policy. The clever Greek 
had found it all the easier to adopt the unctuous tone which cor- 
responded to Alexander's present mood because he himself was 
fond of great words and empty generalities. He began in moving 
terms by saying that no one had been waging war against France, 
but only against Bonaparte, consequently the right of conquest 
was inapplicable without sacrificing the legitimate royal house 
to hatred, and justifying in the eyes of posterity all the horrors 
of the Revolution. For this reason there must be a simple re-estab- 
lishment of the peace of Paris, and to provide against the 
eventuality of a further revolution, a renewal of the alUance of 
Chaumont ; finally, the country must be subjected for a brief 
period to military occupation, until the payment of the contribu- 
tion had been completed, this contribution being employed by 
the neighbouring states chiefly for the institution of border 

These proposals, though adorned with the fine-sounding title 
of " A combination of moral and real guarantees," aroused great 
anger in the Prussian camp. On August 4th, Humboldt wrote to 
the chancellor : " The Russian plan is the most disastrous for 
Prussia that could possibly have been imagined. If it were to be 
adopted, Prussia would derive from the entire war, from her losses, 
from her colossal sacrifices, no other advantage than a share in 
the contribution which is to be employed chiefly for the construc- 
tion of fortresses against France. On the other hand, Prussia would 
suffer from the great disadvantage of being unable to apply the 


Belle Alliance 

moneys secured by the present war to the rehef of her own 
exhausted country and to the safeguarding of her eastern frontier ; 
she would have for years to endure the passage of Russian troops 
through her own territory and through Germany ; in all her 
negotiations with France she would continue to be hampered by 
the influence of the Russian court." At any cost we must induce 
the allies to diminish the French domain, and thus counteract 
" the possible reproach that Prussia is pursuing her own advan- 
tage only. In actual fact, Prussia in her present situation is 
concerned more about safeguarding her frontiers than about aggran- 
disement." * In a second confidential memorial, he went on to 
expound the system which he had so often discussed with Met- 
ternich, that of "an intermediary Europe," a firm union between 
England, Austria, and Prussia, which was to keep within bounds 
the two threatening masses of France and Russia ; in Vienna this 
system had already been shaken by the undue enlargement of 
Russia, and it would become altogether untenable if Prussia were 
to be left with her frontiers unsecured, opposed to the profoundly 
hostile French nation, and to the Bourbons who had already so 
clearly shown their hostility to Prussia.* 

Humboldt then handed the Committee of Four a striking 
refutation of the Russian memorial ; the task was, as it were, 
created for his pitiless dialectic. He showed how the war, though 
in truth it had not been begun with the aim of conquest, had now 
in fact eventuated in a state of conquest ; how France must atone 
for France's errors ; how the allies did, indeed, possess the right 
to safeguard themselves, but had not indisputably the right to 
interfere in the internal affairs of France ; it was right to take 
from France what was indispensable for the military protection of 
her neighbours, but independence must then be immediately 
restored to the country, for Prussia knew, from her own experi- 
ence, that nothing caused more profound embitterment to a nation 
than the presence of foreign troops in times of peace ; if Europe 
proposed to take the French under her protectorate, the Revolution 
would never come to an end. At the same time, Hardenberg 
renewed his own proposals in a detailed memorial of August 4th, 
showing how, since the days of Louis XIV, France had trans- 
gressed her natural lines of defence, and that it was precisely 
through the possession of these outposts that she had been con- 
tinually lured on to new wars of conquest. Even Knesebeck 

^ Humboldt to Hardenberg. August 4, 1815. 

* Humboldt, Mlmoire tris-confidentiel, August 4, 1815. 


History of Germany 

agreed here, speaking quite soberly and without doctrinaire eccen- 
tricities ; he insisted that even if the peace should be concluded 
upon terms of excessive lenity, this would afford no security 
for the persistence of the Bourbon rule, for the French people 
would never forgive the defeat in Brabant. 

Meanwhile Stein came to Paris at Hardenberg's request. 
On the way the baron spent a few days on the Rhine with Goethe, 
and Arndt noted with profound emotion how the two best sons 
of the fatherland regarded one another in so friendly a manner, 
each endeavouring to make due allowance for the other's 
pecuharities. In Paris, Stein employed all his eloquence with 
the czar. In a terse memorial, dated August i8th, he refuted 
the Russian opinion that France was the ally of her conquerors. 
If France is our friend, he asked, why have we occupied the 
country, why are we requisitioning supplies from her ? He con- 
cluded admonishingly : " England and Russia ought not to 
believe it to be to their advantage that Germany should be left 
continually in a state of excitement and distress." But what 
could Stein's words avail beside the tears and prayers of Frau 
von Kriidener and Frau von Lezay-Marnesia ? The lightnings 
of his oratory were unable to penetrate the thick clouds of 
incense which surrounded the czar in the Hotel Mohtchenu. If 
Stein no longer counted, what could be expected from the repre- 
sentatives of the powers of the second rank ? The Bavarian 
ambassador, Rechberg, held back cautiously, for Bavaria needed 
the help of Austria for the attainment of her own plans of aggran- 
disement. The Badenese assumed an extremely modest atti- 
tude, describing in moving memorials the untenable situation on 
their Rhenish frontier, describing how recently the French had 
endeavoured to bridge the Rhine from Strasburg, and demanding 
that they should at least have exclusive possession of the Kehl 
bridge, and that the fortresses of Strasburg should be dis- 
mantled.* Far more audacious was the language of the ambitious 
crown prince of Wiirtemberg and of his minister Wintzingerode. 
In their letters and memorials they already referred to that 
opposition on the part of the middle-sized states to the great 
powers which for many years to come was to disturb German 
life. They declared threateningly that Europe could as little bear 
the new fourfold despotism as it had been able formerly to bear 
the single despotism of Napoleon, and the crown prince pro- 

^ Hackc to Ilardcnbcrg, August 19 ; Ilacko and Ucrstctt to Ilardcnbcrg, 
October 21, 1815. 


Belle Alliance 

phesied that which forty years later he repeated to Bismarck, the 
envoy of the Bundestag, that the unprotected condition of our 
south-western frontier would sooner or later comp>el the South 
German crowns to combine in a new Confederation of the Rhine. 

No one worked more unweariedly than Gagem, the Netherland 
imperial patriot, for on this occasion the interests of the Nether- 
lands coincided perfectly with those of Germany. The inde- 
fatigable man felt perfectly in his element when in innumerable 
memorials he displayed the entire armoury of his learning in the 
history of the empire, and when he enumerated the long series of 
French arbitrary acts since the days of Henry II and Maurice of 
Saxony. The pupil of Montesquieu, however fantastical might be 
his federalist dreams, was untouched by the romanticism of the 
legitimist doctrine of the state. The contention that the war 
had been waged against Bonaparte alone, he countered bluntly 
with the question whether it was at Bonaparte alone that the 
musket-balls and case-shot of Belle Alliance had been discharged, 
whether Bonaparte alone had been sabred there. "It is the 
nations which are at war ; upon nations must fall the fortunate 
as well as the unfortunate consequences of war." It was .natural 
that the former barrister should also defend the petty states against 
the hegemony of the great powers. Don Labrador, the Spanish 
ambassador, formally demanded admission to the conferences.* 
But the impossibility of conducting these difficult negotiations 
before the forum of all the European states was obvious, and on 
August loth the Committee of Four determined that the states of 
the second rank were to be admitted only to the actual negotia- 
tions with France, that is to say, after the issue had been really 

The inseparable community of interests between Prussia and 
the South German states was so plainly manifest that all the evil 
memories of Rhenish Confederate days seemed to have passed 
away without leaving a trace. Prussia resumed her natural role 
as protector of united Germany. All the legal and political 
grounds for the re-establishment of our ancient western march 
were brought forward exhaustively by the Prussian diplomats 
and their colleagues from the smaller states. With sound tact, 
the statesmen laid the greatest stress upon the point of view of 
military security, the only one which could make some impression 
upon an assembly of diplomats. Dr. Butte, on the other hand, 
in his widely read work upon the conditions of peace, and also 

* Labrador to Hardenberg, September 15, 1815, 

History of Germany 

the majority of the German newspapers, once more took up the 
ideas of Amdt, and demanded the linguistic frontier as a neutral 
right of the nation. In view of the friendly disposition on both sides, 
no serious dispute about the division of the spoil need be feared 
if only the return of Alsace to the Germanic Federation could be 
assured. But this decision lay wholly in the hands of the great 
powers, and all too soon did it appear that in Paris, as shortly 
before in Vienna, Humboldt's dream of " an intermediary Europe " 
was an empty picture of fancy. England and Austria, which he 
had regarded as Prussia's natural alhes, were just as strongly 
averse to the German demands as were Russia and France. 

On August 6th, Mettemich for the first time gave expres- 
sion to his views, with the formal declaration that this war 
had been carried on against armed Jacobinism, and must not 
degenerate into a war of conquest. Consequently he sought 
guarantees of European peace chiefly in a reasonable ordering of 
the internal affairs of France, and in a provisional miHtary occu- 
pation ; in addition, the fortresses of the most advanced line 
must either be ceded to the neighbouring states, " or must at least 
be dismantled." Coming down to details, he declared that Ger- 
many needed nothing more than the fortress of Landau, in com- 
pensation for the destroyed Philippsburg ; it would suffice, for 
the rest, that the fortresses in Alsace should be dismantled, and 
that Strasburg should retain only the citadel. To the experienced 
diplomatists of the Committee of Four, it was immediately obvious 
that in this "or at least," expressed at the very beginning of 
the negotiations, was to be found Metternich's true opinion ; 
in accordance with the rounding-off system of policy which he 
had for three years unerringly pursued, he could not desire the 
restoration of Alsace. It was only the Prussian statesmen, 
always inclined to believe the best of their Austrian friend, who 
could not grasp the true significance of Metternich's memorial ; 
they merely deplored " the vacillating attitude " of the court of 
Vienna, whereas the Russian and the English ministers imme- 
diately recognised that Austria dissociated herself from the common 
cause of Germany, and for this reason spoke only of " the 
Prussian demands," 

For a time Hardenberg continued to cherish hopes also of 
English help ; yet everyone now knew that the attitude of Castle- 
rcagh and Wellington by no means corresponded to the wishes 
of their coimtry. ITie London newspapers were loudly demand- 
ing a vigorous utilisation of the victory ; Castlereagh's pohtical 


Belle Alliance 

associates, the tories, who had always been the most decisive 
opponents of France, expressed their lively disapproval of any 
false generosity. Lord Liverpool wrote in the name of the 
cabinet that the manifest sentiments of the nation could not be 
overlooked. Even the prince regent expressed himself in favour 
of the German claims, and followed the advice of Count Miinster, 
who, in Paris, to Stein's astonishment and delight, faithfully 
espoused the Prussian cause. Altogether undisturbed by the 
opposition of the nation, Castlereagh and Wellington went their 
own way. The duke insisted that the sole purpose of this war 
had been to bring the Revolution to a close, and that for this 
reason the only result could be an occupation for a few years. 
Castlereagh agreed with the duke, and held out hopes to the 
Prussians for a better reward after future wars : ' " Continued dis- 
turbances in France may doubtless in the future render it neces- 
sary for Europe to undertake the partition of France, and Europe 
will effect this change in its territorial distribution, will carry it 
out with energy, and will maintain it with unanimity, should it 
ever appear in the eyes of humanity to be a necessary and a jus- 
tified measure." The present war, however, had not been begun 
for such a purpose. In conclusion he wrote : " Should the alUes 
prove deceived in their confidence, through the warUke ambition 
of France, they will then take up arms again, basing their 
strength, not alone upon commanding military positions, but also 
upon that moral energy which alone can hold together such a 

Consequently the Germans, who were longing for peace, were 
to abandon this unique opportunity of safeguarding their frontiers, 
in the agreeable expectation of further shedding of blood and of 
fresh need for war ! Is it to be wondered at that this reference 
to future misery, and that these unctuous words on the moral 
energy of the coalition, sounded to the Germans like mockery ? 
Day by day they became more incensed. Even social intercourse 
between the statesmen of the two parties was brought to a stand- 
still ; the British uttered bitter complaints regarding Humboldt's 
icy coldness and his cutting sarcasms. In this way the negotia- 
tions were carried on for a month and a half. Finally the chan- 
cellor determined to yield half a step ; on August 28th he offered 
to relinquish Upper Alsace, demanding for Germany no more than 
Diedenhofen and Saarlouis, Landau and Bitsch, and, finally, 
Strasburg as a free town. 

* Castlereagh. confidential Note to Hardenberg, probably written in August. 


History of Germany 

Meanwhile Gneisenau had composed a memorial for the czar, 
which on August 31st he handed in on the command of the king ; 
Frederick William expected that a certain impression would be 
created by the fiery words of the general, and hoped that on the 
next day, in a personal interview, he would be able to effect a 
complete change in his friend's mood. ^ Without entering in detail 
into the Prussian demands, Gneisenau endeavoured in the first 
place merely to win over the czar to the principle of the cession 
of territory. He showed that in fact France was responsible for 
the misfortune of the new war ; without the assistance of all the 
energetic men in France, and without the dull-minded indifference 
of the masses, " the despised adventurer " would never have 
been able to complete the journey from Cannes to Paris. "Europe 
rightly expects from the allies the punishment of such misdeeds, 
and will learn with astonishment that it is proposed to conclude 
a new peace of Utrecht, to etemaHse the sorrows of unfortunate 
Germany ; this will bring the governments to despair and will embitter 
the nations. If of two neighbouring countries, one possesses a 
unified state authority and is physically and morally prepared for 
attack, whilst the other, through the natural defects of a federal 
constitution, and through the physical characteristics of its fron- 
tiers, is strictly limited to defence, it is easy to foresee which of the 
two will tend to become subordinate to the other. That which in 
the hands of one of these states becomes a means of attack will 
in the hands of the other be a means of defence. Unquestionably 
the Bourbon government will not be able to secure popular favour 
unless it completely gives itself up to the adventurous and 
revengeful spirit of the nation. Encouraged by the experience 
that their frontiers remain uninjured even after the greatest 
defeats, and that the calculations of a narrow-minded policy will 
secure the integrity of their domains under all conditions, the 
French will soon know no bounds to their arrogance. Ought we to 
give the French party in Germany new grounds for the belief that 
more is to be gained by adhesion to French plans of conquest than 
by the fulfilment of dutiesjjto the fatherland and by adhesion 
to the common cause of Europe ? Powerful Russia stands, 
indeed, too high for petty considerations which do not corres- 
pond to the magnanimous character of the czar. If the frontier 
of France remains unaltered, it will be generally said that England 
desired to throw the continent into new confusions, so that time 

* Boyen to Gneisenau, August 31, 1815. Gneisenau, Memorandum to his 
majefty Czar Alexander. 


Belle Alliance 

might not be given for the continental countries to defend them- 
selves against British commercial policy." Such was the general 
trend of the long memorandum, couched in defective French, 
and yet written with the highest oratorical energy. Nor did 
Gneisenau hesitate to demand that Piedmont, the Netherlands, 
and the smaller German states, should be admitted to the con- 
ference, a demand which in the eyes of the other great powers 
was a terrible heresy. 

The czar turned a deaf ear. Nor did his conversation with the 
king lead to any result. Alexander thanked the general, curtly 
and dryly, for his well-meant and zealous endeavours on behalf 
of the great interests of Europe,* and made Capodistrias 
compose a detailed refutation, which, whilst lacking in reasoned 
considerations, furnished an incredible abundance of moral common- 
places. "Is it for this reason that Europe has overthrown 
military despotism and annihilated the spirit of conquest, in order 
subsequently to make a victim of the king of France and to 
prepare a new desecration for the French kingdom ? To do this 
would be once for all to banish morality from all political negotia- 
tions. Force alone would become a principle, a means, and an 
end, of statecraft ! If France were to be debased, and by means 
of a series of arbitrary measures to be yet more morally corrupted, 
the country would be forced ultimately to throw itself into the 
arms of the strongest party. A transient occupation of the country 
would afford to the neighbours of France all the security they can 
desire." In conclusion, Capodistrias wrote : " Let us, in so 
decisive a moment, not fail to recognise the inalterable course of 
providence, which has allowed the cause of religion, moraUty, 
and justice, to stumble, only in order to prepare for that cause 
new triumphs, and in order to give a powerful and valuable 
stimulus alike to princes and to peoples."* 

When this masterpiece of oriental pulpit oratory was 
handed to the Prussian statesmen on September 5th, they had 
already been forced to abandon their last hope from England. 
Castlereagh's brother, Lord Charles Stewart, had hastened to 
Windsor, and in the last days of August had returned with the joyful 
tidings that he had overcome the influence of Count Miinster and 
had won over the prince regent entirely to the views of Castlereagh 
and Wellington. The two might now proceed with enhanced 

* Czar Alexander to Gneisenau, September 5, 1815. 

^ Caix)distrias, Riponse au Memoire du Giniral de Gneisenau, September 5, 


History of Germany 

confidence. On August 31st the duke replied in brief and incisive 
terms to Hardenberg's last memorial, to the effect that any cession 
of territory would be unpoUtic and illegal because it would not 
be in harmony with the Viennese declaration of the allies ; an 
occupation for a few years would suffice perfectly.* On 
September 2nd, Castlereagh, in the name of the prince regent, 
expressed England's complete agreement with the Russian pro- 
posals. Thus there was an absolute divergence of views : Russia 
and England objected on principle to all the Prussian demands 
for territory ; Austria, with her modest desire for the dismantle- 
ment of the Alsatian frontier fortresses, seemed to assume a middle 
position, but was in reality in close approximation with the Anglo- 
Russian opinion. Could Prussia, depleted of money and troops, 
now carry through her demands by force of arms ? It was not 
to be thought of . 

Yet even the czar felt that he must not expose his best ally 
to an unconditional and humihating defeat, for he had an urgent 
desire that the Prusso-Russian alUance should continue. He there- 
fore determined on September 7th to give way a little, a very little, 
and ordered Nesselrode to declare to the chancellor that Russia, 
like England, held absolutely to the idea of a transient occupation 
{le systeme des garantis temforaires) ; but certain trifling cessions 
of territory were not irreconcilable with this system. Thus 
Landau could be ceded to Germany, Savoy to Piedmont, certain 
frontier fortresses to the Netherlands, perhaps even Hiiningen 
to Switzerland ; but to Prussia nothing at all. This memorial, 
too, was full of the teachings of wisdom and virtue : " The duplex 
aim of the tranquillisation of Europe and of France cannot be 
attained unless the allies display in the peace negotiations the same 
purity of aims, the same unselfishness, the same spirit of modera- 
tion, which has hitherto constituted the irresistible energy of the 
European league." * Notwithstanding all this, the czar now did 
the very thing which two days before he had described as treason 
to religion and morality, abandoning the inviolability of French 
soil, which he had been advocating with so much sacred wrath, 
and thus opening the way to an understanding. In a confidential 
covering letter, Nes.selrode implored the chancellor " to bring this 
unhappy affair to a speedy close. This would be the best birth- 
day present you could give to the czar. There is nothing more 

* Weilington'H Memorial to Hardcnbcrg. August 31, 1815. 
' NeMclrode to Hardcnbcrg, concerning Castlereagh's Memorial of September 3 
(September 7, 1815). 


Belle Alliance 

painful to him and to us all than this difference of opinion between 
two courts whose relations are so intimate."* 

Metternich immediately utilised the favour of the moment with 
extreme adroitness in order to play the part of mediator 
between the disputants. In a memorial dated September 8th, he 
gratefully recognised the moderate and conciliatory attitude of 
all the courts, and found it readily comprehensible that, none the 
less, in consequence of the differences in their respective geo- 
graphical situations and national moods, their views might not 
perfectly harmonise. It was Austria's desire to secure the 
greatest possible safety with the least possible sacrifice for France, 
and she therefore proposed " a mixed system of permanent and 
temporary guarantees," therefore, above all, that France should 
return to the status quo of 1790 ; " the frontiers of 1790 " — here 
was a happy discovery of one of the convenient catchwords which 
the diplomacy of those days, still entirely French in sentiment, 
so greatly loved. The further prop)osals of the memorial were 
indeed extraordinarily inconsistent with these fine-sounding words : 
they showed clearly that Metternich was not mediating in an 
honourable spirit, but was really an adherent of the Anglo-Russian 
party. There was no longer any mention of the fourth part of 
Alsace which in the year 1790 had still been German ; on the con- 
trary, Austria demanded in addition to Landau and those Nether- 
land fortresses to whose cession the czar had already agreed, 
nothing more than Saarlouis ; and even this was not demanded 
unconditionally, since it was suggested that France might 
pay money to Prussia for the building of another fortress 
on the Saar. Finally, there was to be a war indemnity of 
1,200,000,000 francs ; and for some years the country was to be 
occupied by 150,000 men, to constitute " a European poUce," 
under the supreme command of Wellington.* 

Having thus been sacrificed by Austria, Hardenberg finally 
eclared, on September 8th, that the king of Prussia, in order to 
secure harmony, would renounce his more extensive demands, 
and would accept the frontiers of 1790 ; but he understood that 
this principle was to be honourably interpreted, and demanded, 
in compensation for the German enclaves in Alsace, in addition 
to Landau and Saarlouis, Bitsch and the northern regions of 
Alsace, with Fort Louis, Weissenburg, and Hagenau. Not even 
England now found any objection to raise to a moderate demand 

^ Nesselrode to Hardenberg, September 7, 1815. 

'' Metternich, Memorial to the Committeee of Four. September 8. 1815. 


History of Germany 

for territory, and thus the negotiations ended, as had before the 
dispute about Saxony, with a repulsive chaffering about indivi- 
dual towns and fortresses. Hardenberg defended his ultimate 
demands with the utmost obstinacy, but since none of the other 
powers supported him, he could save for Germany no more than 
Landau, Saarlouis, and the coal-fields of Saarbriicken. Of Met- 
temich's proposal to return to " the status quo of 1790 " there 
ultimately remained Uttle more than the name, for the so-called 
mediator did not take his own proposal seriously. On Sep- 
tember 19th, the four powers resolved that they would now open 
negotiations with France. Next day they handed in their joint 
ultimatum. They assumed that peace was assured, for what 
could unarmed France do to oppose these far too lenient conditions ? 
The Russian army was already preparing to depart. On Sep- 
tember 23rd Blucher wrote home : " The peace has been arranged, 
not, unfortunately, upon the terms that ought to have been 
secured, upon the lines upon which I opened the matter ; but 
owing to the firm stand Hardenberg finally took, the terms are 
better than they seemed likely to be. We had to fight against 
all the others at once." ^ 

In the eyes of the French, on the other hand, the allies' 
ultimatum was the beginning of the real negotiations. The whole 
of Paris eagerly endeavoured, as if by tacit conspiracy, to detach 
the high-minded czar from his allies. The distinguished world 
displayed a luxuriant abundance of those pious modes of speech 
which were agreeable to the new world-saviour, and admired the 
solemn phrase of Talleyrand : " There is nothing less aristocratic 
than unbelief." The czar was overwhelmed at once with skilful 
adulation and with gross flattery ; when he mustered his army 
to take leave of it upon the plain of Vertus, the Parisian news- 
papers, as if drunk with ecstasy, declared that the noble com- 
mander must feel himself so perfectly at home upon this field of 
virtue ! Wellington, on the other hand, notwithstanding his 
reserve, did not escape the most savage attacks, and on one 
occasion in the theatre was actually hissed out of the royal box. 
Finally, everyone displayed fierce enmity against the Pnissians, 
What anger was manifested in Paris on August 3rd when the 
Prussian troops illuminated their quarters and barracks in honour 
of their national festival, and when upon the king's house the 
nscription was to be read : I'arcere subjeciis et dchcllarc superbos t 
What petty quarrels there were, too, about the payment and 
* Blucher to Hienen, September Z3, 1815. 

Belle Alliance 

provisioning of the troops ! At first the Bourbons, owing to the 
general disorder, were hardly able to fulfil the duties imposed uf)on 
the conquered. But when Hardenberg had 5,000,000 francs 
brought from Prussia, in order to discharge the arrears of pay, 
Blucher refused to accept this new sacrifice from the hands of 
his fellow-citizens : " The^army," he wrote proudly, " is not a 
mercenary army which must be bought off at any cost, it is one 
with the nation ! " At length an understanding was reached, in 
virtue of which France was to resume the administration of the 
occupied portions of the country, and was at the same time to 
undertake to pay and maintain the troops. But just as in the 
previous year the Bourbons had failed to carry out the promised 
restoration of the art treasures, so also on this occasion did they 
break their word. The czar, whose generosity was inexhaustible, 
immediately granted a postponement forj the [^overdue pay- 
ments ; wealthy England was not pressing ; while Austria lacked 
courage to separate herself from the other two. Prussia alone, 
devoid of all financial resources, was unable to display any con- 
sideration. When Louis, the minister of finance, wrote curtly 
and arrogantly to Humboldt, that the sums demanded for the 
clothing of the Prussian troops could not be^paid, he received a 
letter saying that he would bej responsible if Prussia should now 
help herself. The generals were^ ordered to make requisitions in 
the departments, and at length the Bourbon court resolved to 
meet its obligations.^ 

The note in which, on September 21st, Talleyrand answered the 
ultimatum of the allies was Ukewise couched in a tone of stubborn 
arrogance. The wily schemer had derived new hopes from the 
commencing departure of the Russian army, cind began in a lofty 
strain to the effect that the Most Christian King had not been 
waging war against the four powers, his aUies, and therefore could 
not agree that they possessed a right of conquest ; never could 
he cede a single scrap of land from " ancient France " ; if the four 
powers put forward such demands, the French plenipotentiaries 
were instructed not even to hsten to them. Yet the alUes were 
demanding from " ancient France " nothing more than Saarlouis, 
Landau, and a strip of land along the Meuse ; they were prepared 
to leave the Bourbons, in exchange, Avignon and the German 
quarter of Alsace, the conquests of the Revolution, so that " ancient 
France " would still secure an increase of several hundred thousand 

^ Louis to Humboldt, August 23. Humboldt's Annotations, August 24, 


History of Germany 

souls ! Two days earlier, Talleyrand had also declared that the 
return of the art treasures was inadmissible, for this would increase 
the hatred of the people for the Bourbons. Such language in the 
mouth of a completely disarmed state seemed intolerable even 
to the British and the Russians. WelUngton, who had hitherto 
regarded the demand for the return of the art treasures as a 
dubious one, now expressed the opinion that this was necessary 
" in order to read the French a great moral lesson." The four 
powers replied on the following day, expressing sharp dissent. 
There was no question of conquests but merely of measures for 
the safety of Europe. Was the royal court desirous of upholding 
once more that principle of the intangibility of the French frontiers 
which had caused so much unhappiness under Napoleon ? In 
contrast with the Germans, the English and the Russians had 
at first unctuously defended the principle of the inviolabiUty of 
France ; but now they abandoned this principle. 

The answer caused profound dismay in the Tuileries. King 
Louis endeavoured once more by personal intervention to take 
the emotional spirit of the czar by storm. " In the bitterness of 
my heart," he wrote on September 23rd, " I take refuge in your 
majesty, to express to you with devotion the painful feelings with 
which I have read the proposals of the four powers. One thing, 
above all, disturbs me profoundly and leads me to despair in the 
well-being of unhappy France — the overwhelming thought that your 
majesty, upon whom I place my hopes, seems to have approved 
the note which was sent to me. I do not hesitate. Sire, to assure 
you, that I shall refuse to be an instrument in bringing about the 
destruction of my country, and to declare that I would rather 
abdicate than agree to besmirch the ancient glories of my throne 
by so unexampled a humiliation ! " In autograph notes, the 
attention of Emperor Francis and of King Frederick William III 
was drawn to this despairing despatch.* The threatened abdica- 
tion was, however, utterly improbable, and the theatrical pathos 
of the letter was in ludicrous contrast with the fact that the allies 
were leaving ancient France in undisturbed possession of a 
notable enlargement of territory. Even the czar was estranged 
by the immeasurable distress of his prot^g6. Alexander did not, 
indeed, remain completely unaffected ; he secured that of the last 
demands of the coalition a trifle should still be abated. The 
allies renounced the important Meuse fortress of Givet, and also 

• King Louis to Czar Alexander, September 23 ; to Empiuor Francis, 
September 23, 1815. 


Belle Alliance 

Conde : the glorious name of this fortress was too dear to the 
House of the Capets. 

A change of ministry in the Tuileries established the work 
of peace on a firmer foundation. Since the legitimist ultras had 
secured a victory in the elections to the chamber, through the 
adoption of the forcible methods of the White Terror, neither 
Fouch6 the regicide nor Talleyrand the mediator could 
maintain his position in the cabinet. Beneath the surface, the 
czar gave his aid to the change, for he regarded Fouch^'s inter- 
course with the English as suspect ; he even had serious 
thoughts of securing for Pozro di Borgo, the declared enemy of 
the military Jacobins of Prussia, a place in the ministry, for Pozzo 
was a Frenchman by birth ; but in the end he regarded it as more 
prudent to leave his confidant in the secure position of Russian 
ambassador. On September 26th, the due de Richelieu formed a 
new cabinet. Richelieu was a well-meaning statesman, but one 
totally unacquainted with France ; he had acquired the favour 
of the czar during a prolonged stay in Russia. Powerless as he 
was, and entirely dependent upon the favour of Alexander, he soon 
bowed before the inevitable ; and on October 2nd a decisive 
agreement between France and the four powers was effected. The 
protocol employed the high-sounding phrase that the frontier of 
1790 was to constitute the rule ; but in reality all that France 
lost was a strip of land on the Belgian border with Marienburg 
and PhiHppeville, the remainder of Savoy and, finally. Landau 
and Saarlouis, with Saarbriicken. 

Alexander could not abandon the scene of his deeds without 
once more astonishing the world by the display of his sublime 
sentiments. In the anxious days after the battle of Bautzen, 
Frederick William, upon a solitary ride with his friend, had once 

I said with profound emotion : " Now God alone can save us ; if 
we conquer, we will render to Him the honour before all the 
world ! " How frequently since then had memories of that con- 
secrated hour entered the czar's mind. Profoundly moved by 
the prophecies of Frau von Kriidener, and by a fantastic little 
work by the German philosopher Baader, he now resolved to 
[transform after his own manner the thought thus uttered by his 
friend, and wrote with his own hand the charter of the Holy 
Alliance, a personal confession of faith which was to show the world 
that the new European three-starred constellation owed its glories 
^ solely to the sun of Christ. In this remarkable docimaent were 
H displayed all the nobility of sentiment and all the ardency of faith, 


History of Germany 

but also all the obscure sentimentality and worldly vanity, of this 
suggestible character. The recognition that the European society 
of nations constitutes a hving community, this old and half-for- 
gotten truth which was now pressing vigorously for revival, after 
the horrors of the Napoleonic age, underwent a strange theocratic 
transformation in the language of the God-inspired man. The 
three monarchs of Austria, Prussia, and Russia (thus wrote the 
czar) regarded themselves as united by the bonds of a true and 
indissoluble brotherhood, and as occupying in relation to their 
subjects the position of fathers ; they considered themselves 
appointed by providence to rule three branches of a single family, 
and they recognised as the sole sovereign of the Single Christian 
nation, " God, our divine Savioiu: Jesus Christ, the word of the 
Most High, the word of hfe." All states recognising these sacred 
truths were fraternally invited to enter the Holy Alliance.^ 

The enigmatical favour of fortune by which it always happened 
that Alexander's outbursts of emotioned feeling coincided with 
his advantage, presided also over this outpouring of his most 
sacred sentiments. All the powers of Europe might accept his 
brotherly invitation, except those two which, in accordance with 
Russian poHcy, were traditionally regarded as Russia's irrecon- 
cilable enemies. The pope must necessarily hold aloof, because 
the vicegerent of Christ on earth could not recognise the civitas 
Dei except under the rule of the crowned priest. Again, the 
inhdel sultan, as the czar expressly declared, was necessarily and 
for ever excluded from the great brotherly alUance of Europe. 
The oracular phrases in which Alexander earnestly and ceremo- 
niously presented his proposals were extremely antipathetic to the 
sound sense of Frederick WiUiam ; but why should the king refuse 
to oblige his old fnend in a matter which, after all, imposed no 
obUgations upon the Prussian state ? The king, therefore, did as 
the czar desired, and signed the charter on September 26th. 
Emperor Francis found it less easy to make up his mind ; he 
foresaw how distressing this Holy Alliance would be to his good 
friend in Constantinople. Since Mctternich, however, smilingly 
declared the pious charter to be no more than empty talk, 
Austria also gave in her adhesion on the same day. All the states 

* A reference in a parliamentary speech by Lord Livcrjxx)! has given occasion 
to the ircquently repeated assertion that the charter of the Holy Alliance contains 
certain secret articles. Although the untcnability of this assumption is manifest 
irom internal considerations, the assurance may here be given, as a work of 
rapererogation, that the original charter, preserved in the private state archives 
of Uorlin, contains nothing more than the universally-known text. 


Belle Alliance 

of Europe subsequently joined the Holy Alliance, most of them 
out of complaisance for the czar, but some also because the pious 
words regarding the paternal government of the princes were well 
suited to the ultra-conservative tendencies of the epoch of the 

Three only among the European powers withheld their assent : 
the two ancient enemies of Russia — and England. Whilst the 
prince regent, as ruler of Hanover, gladly signed the document, 
Castlereagh declared in an incisive speech that Parliament con- 
sisted of practical statesmen, and therefore, while it was able to 
approve a diplomatic treaty between states, it could not approve 
a declaration of principles which would thrust England back into 
the days of Cromwell and the Roundheads. The high tories' 
true motive, however, was not regard for Parliament, with which 
thay well knew how to deal, but mistrust of Russia, and regard 
for the sultan, who was in fact greatly disturbed by the conclusion 
of the Holy Alliance. The remarkable episode is not without 
interest to the historian of civilisation, since the romantic moods 
and the lively sentiment of European community characteristic 
of the age are all therein reflected. But the Holy Alliance never 
had any political significance ; such a significance was merely 
assigned to it by poetic fiction in the opposition press of all the 
countries, who soon took to speaking of " the system of the Holy 
Alliance," and who directed to this imaginary address their com- 
plaints against the policy of the eastern powers. 

Peace was at length signed on November 20th. Not even 
this treaty, however, brought to the Germans the final conclusion 
of their internal disputes about territory. Landau was ceded to 
Austria, and by Austria to Bavaria, but this did not suffice to 
satisfy the demands of the Wittelsbachs. Since Austria spumed 
the reacquisition of Alsace, and had thus abandoned the simplest 
means for the complete satisfaction of the court of Munich, 
Metternich, in order that he might still have in his hands some- 
thing to bargain with, made the great powers guarantee the future 
reversion " of Breisgau and the Badenese Palatinate — a promise 
lat was utterly illegal — and the unhappy territorial dispute 
between Bavaria and Austria remained temporarily unsettled. 
England was more fortunate. In addition to the abolition of 
the slave trade, which to the British nation had already become an 
object of national vanity, of general sport, the tories acquired a 
protectorate over the Ionian islands, so that the island kingdom's 
position of power in the Mediterranean was now established more 


History of Germany 

firmly than ever. France had to accept the military occupation 
of her north-western provinces for a period of from three to five 
years (the term being dependent upon her conduct), and had to pay 
an indemnity of 700,000,000 francs. Of this sum 500,000,000 were 
allotted in sums of 100,000,000 to each of the four great powers 
and to the minor states taken as a unit ; in addition, England 
and Prussia received 25,000,000 each for the occupation of Paris. 
The remainder was ear-marked for the fortification of the terri- 
torial areas bordering on France, Bavaria receiving 15,000,000 
and the Germanic Federation 25,000,000 for the Rhenish for- 
tresses ; Prussia had to content herself with 20,000,000, since 
Saarlouis and the right of garrisoning Luxemburg were ceded to 
this country. 

On the same day the four powers renewed their old alliance. 
England had desired a simple prolongation of the treaty of Chau- 
mont for a period of twenty years. Russia, however, held that 
France ought to be treated as a suspected enemy only during the 
exceptional conditions of the period of occupation, and she secured 
that the four powers should guarantee, for a time that was not 
distinctly specified, the maintenance of the legitimate royal house 
and of the Charte, ^ for the czar considered that the greatest dangers 
for France would arise from the party fanaticism of the emigres. 
The four powers solemnly promised one another to watch over 
the safety of Europe by repeated meetings of the monarchs or of 
their ministers. In this way the whole continent, and especially 
France, was placed under the police supervision of the coalition ; 
it was impossible to expect that the Bourbons would be con- 
tent until they had secured release from this situation, so 
humiliating to a proud nation, and until they had effected the 
acceptance of France into the alliance of the great powers. Since 
the four powers, Austria and England not excepted, mistrusted 
the savage passion of the dmigrds, when taking leave, they 
directed a note to Richelieu, exhorting him to combine moderation 
with fiimncss, and with strict loyalty to the constitution to oppose 
all enemies of the public peace in whatsoever form they might 
display themselves. It was with profound anxiety that the states- 
men of the coalition left Paris. Not one of them believed in the 
vitality of the ancient royal house ; they all estimated the dura- 
bility of the Bourbon dominion at no more than a few years. Yet 
such a state as this, whose future seemed altogether incalculable, 

' KuHiiian Memorial concerning tlic treaty of alliance, October 9-21, 1815. 


Belle Alliance 

had been re established by aUied Europe in a dominant position on 
the German Upper Rhine ! 

In the whole of modern history there was only one occasion 
on which, after brilliant successes in the field, a peace was con- 
cluded which in leniency could be compared with the treaty of 
November 20, 1815, and this was the peace of Prague of 1866. 
But that which in Prague was effected by free determination, 
and by the wise restraint of the conqueror, resulted in Paris from 
the common suspicions of the other allies towards the boldest 
and most active of their own comrades in victory. The great 
moment in which the balance of power in Europe, which since 
the days of Cardinal Richelieu had been so unnaturally disturbed, 
might have been restored, and in which their ancient inheritance 
might have been given back to the Germans, was wasted, because 
all the powers of the east and of the west were united in the resolve 
that the central region of the continent should be kept in a state 
of continuous suppression. It was by painful experience that the 
German nation bought the knowledge that they could expect 
atonement for ancient wrongs from their own good swords alone. 
All the gloomy prophecies of Hardenberg, Humboldt, and 
Gneisenau were literally fulfilled. Not only did the French feel, 
as was reasonable, that the presence of foreign troops for several 
years was an indehble disgrace, they also regarded a peace whose 
mildness was unexampled as a cruel wrong. It was not the loss 
of Saarbriicken or Landau which they took to heart ; what they 
could not forget was the defeat of Belle AUiance. Revenge for 
Waterloo — for decades to come this remained the watchword of 
the French nation. From this idea sprang the revolution of 1830, 
the threats of war of 1840, and the re-estabUshment of the empire ; 
until after more than half a century, the old and cherished wish 

I found expression in a wicked war of conquest, and the German 
victor in this war at length atoned for the sins of omission of 1815. 
Thus for many decades the relationship between the two 
neighbour peoples remained morbidly insecure and tense. It 
was with fierce anger that the Germans received intelligence of the 
ineffectual peace. It was in the name of the whole nation that 
Blucher exclaimed : " Notwithstanding all their exertions, Prussia 
and Germany once more stand before the world as betrayed." 
Thereupon he again vented his anger against the diplomats, asking 
fiercely how long " this extraordinary collection of subjects who 
rule their own monarchs" was to continue to exist. In their naive 
ignorance of the political situation, many Germans had seriously 


History of Germany 

hoped that in Paris not only would the ancient frontiers of the 
fatherland be re-established, but also that all the errors of the 
federal constitution would be put to rights. Schenkendorf could 
not abandon the hope that the heirs of the Leopolds and the 
Ferdinands, who had so cold-bloodedly spumed the German crown, 
would now be forced to don the ancient purple. The loyal man 
could not await the hour in which the stony and pear-shaped 
countenance of Emperor Francis was once more to be surmounted 
by the crown of the Carlovingians, and he sang : 

"O be at length then wiser, 
You flock that lacks a herd, 
Choose ye at once your Kaiser, 
Mcike him by force your lord ! " 

What wrath was now disseminated throughout this genera- 
tion of Teutonisers when it was learned that everything remained 
as before, that the imperial glories were buried, that Rappolts- 
weiler and Oberehnheim were again to be named Ribeauville and 
Obemai, that the ancient and powerful homeland of German 
civihsation was once more to be defiled with the slime of French 
ill-breeding, and was perhaps to sink therein for ever ! Through 
a thousand German hearts resounded the complaint of the poet : 

"There lies a long-lost treasure 
Among the hills of Vosges, 
Tis ours the task that German blood 
Be freed from hell's own yoke ! " 

The sorest wound of all was that these same lost German lands, 
to which Germany had wished to bring freedom, rejoiced over 
the diplomatic success of the foreigner. Riickert despairingly 
exclaimed : 

" Fruitless the victory that we prized ; 
All France laughs in our face. 
And you, Alsace, de-Germanised, 
Mock, too ! Supreme disgrace ! " 

In the Rheinische Merkur Gorres thundered with all the 
savagery of his Jacobin anger against the basilisk's egg which the 
Gallic cock had laid, and which German folly had hatched. The 
incensed man would not see the obvious reasons for the great failure, 
assigning ail the blame to Hardenberg's weakness and to " the 


Belle Alliance 

German lack of unity," which was to remain a persistent cause of 
complaint, a permanent grievance, of the disillusioned patriots. 
Yet the king and his statesmen had done their duty as best they 
could, and had received loyal support from the ministers of most 
of the middle-sized states. It was not the Germans who had 
failed to exhibit unity, but Austria which had fallen away from 
Germany. That traditional domestic policy which had so often 
sacrificed German imperial lands to foreigners in exchange for 
Hapsburg hereditary dominions, had, on this occasion, simply left 
the Germans in the lurch, because there was nothing desirable 
to gain for the House of Lorraine. 

It was the curse of peaceful dualism that the Prussian 
government was henceforward blamed by public opinion for the 
sins of Austria, and that this government, simply in order to avoid 
offending the dear Austrian ally, refused on principle to justify 
itself before the nations. How wickedly and shamelessly, too, did 
the Hofburg now He to the German people ! Gentz, who hence- 
forward completely lost moral stability, declared with a brazen 
face in the Osterreichischer Beobachter, that there had never 
existed any difference of opinion between the great powers regard- 
ing the conditions of peace, and concluded by saying that if this 
were not the case " then we must have unwittingly or deliberately 
misinformed the public ! " Is it surprising that in face of such a 
policy the language of the patriots daily became more violent, and 
that Gorres wrote in a fury : " Just as the Vendome column is 
a perpetual sign of our disgrace, so in the Rheinische Merkur shall 
there be a perpetual protest on the part of the nation, so that 
posterity may recognise that our contemporaries were not all in 
agreement with what was done ! " 

Not merely did the unhappy peace embitter the sentiments 
of the nation to such a degree that from the first there was not 
even a glimmer of joyful hope radiated over the youthful Ger- 

lanic Federation. It resulted further in increasing the exces- 
sive self-esteem of " the people," which had originated during tbe 

^ar ; there could be no doubt about the matter that " the people " 

^ould have done everything very much better than the diplomats. 

The masses of the nation soon turned their backs on all political 
lideas ; they devoted themselves to the cares of domestic life, 
engaging in faithful work in order to heal the wounds of the 
titanic struggle. Whoever still preserved in his heart the ardent 
idealism of the War of Liberation, consoled himself with the belief 
that the hour had now arrived when the people must take over 


History of Germany 

the conduct of the German state. It sounded like a prophecy of 
the struggles and sorrows of the coming decade, when one of the 
best of the younger generation, F. G. Dahlmann, the historian, of 
Kiel, uttered in commemoration of the victory words which in 
form and content were characteristic of the spirit of the time : 
" Peace and joy cannot return to earth until, just as wars have 
become national and thereby have become victorious, so also 
peace-times shall become national ; peace and joy cannot return 
until, in peace-time also, the national spirit is cultivated and held 
in honour, until the light of good constitutions is diffused 
over the paltry lamps of the cabinets." 




Not every epoch understands its own nature. More esjjecially 
in those weary periods which usually follow the decisive moments 
of national life, courageous and high-spirited individuals are apt 
to be completely deceived regarding the driving energies of the 
age. Before the war no one had imagined how much bravery and 
civic sense, how much power of self-sacrifice and noble passion, 
slumbered among the people of the German north ; now, when all 
these hidden virtues had manifested themselves so gloriously, 
the greatly moved spokesmen of the patriots were simply unable 
to believe that the high enthusiasm of the War of Liberation ceuld 
evaporate as soon as its aim had been secured. Who could dispute 
the contention that the federal act and the conclusion of peace 
had miscarried only because the people had not been able to parti- 
cipate in the negotiations of the diplomats ? All the more certain 
was it that the nation, as soon as it had received the promised 
constitutional government, would attend to its own affairs with 
zeal and understanding, and would lead the errant cabinets back 
into the paths of national statecraft. It was in such a sense that 

Lrndt wrote, at the beginning of the first year of peace : " In this 

^ear 1816, between the rulers and the peoples, the bond of love 
id obedience must be indissolubly tied." He saw the doors of 
new epoch widely opened ; as soon as the beautiful new-bom 

child of this year, constitutional freedom, should make its entry 
ito all the German states, " those who had fallen in the field 

^ould exult, and widows and affianced maidens in their solitude 

^ould weep tears of joy." 

The sanguine man was to learn all too soon how completely 
^he had misunderstood the character and sentiments of his nation. 

Germany stood at the threshold of a lengthy period of political 

tutelage, full of error and disillusionment ; public opinion, which 

See Appendix 111*^ 

History of Germany 

Amdt esteemed as " the mightiest queen of Hfe," showed but 
little understanding of the problems of constitutional government, 
and hardly even displayed any serious interest in the matter. The 
solitary widows and affianced maidens, the warriors who had 
returned to their homes to exchange the sword for the ploughshare 
or the carpenter's plane, were hard pressed by poverty ; their 
struggles were directed to providing a subsistence for themselves, 
to discovering how they could rebuild huts upon the plundered 
battle-fields of the national war. Germany was once again the 
most impoverished of all the lands of western Europe ; in many 
regions of the march of Brandenburg there began for the fifth time 
a fierce struggle for the first beginnings of civic welfare. With a 
quiet confidence in God, the common people returned to the 
arduous labours of the day, patiently bearing the lot of privation 
which came to them as the reward of so many victories. That 
spirit of restlessness and brutalisation, which after great struggles 
is apt for a time to persist in the sentiments of the masses, was 
nowhere seen among the pious and sober-minded men who had 
fought in this holy war. But amid the pressure of economic cares 
there was no room left for political passion. Even the memory of 
all the wonders of the last three years rarely found open expression, 
although it still persisted in loyal hearts. Twice or thrice in suc- 
cession, on October i8th, bonfires flamed on the hill-tops ; but 
after that, in most cases, they were seen no longer, sometimes 
because they were forbidden by the police, sometimes because 
the masses became indifferent. In this generation, which was in 
general so passionately fond of writing, the number of popular 
books and woodcuts describing to the nation the most remarkable 
age of its recent history, remained extraordinarily small. An 
affected picture, " The Return of the Young Hero," was occa- 
sionally to be seen hanging on the walls in the houses of well-to-do 
bourgeois whose sons had gone to the front among the voluntary 
yagers ; at fairs, and in country inns, even the portrait of Blucher, 
the popular hero, was rarely to be seen. 

Among the cultured classes, too, there were, generally speak- 
ing, only three sharply separated circles in which the elevated 
mood, the proud patriotic hopes, of the years of war, were still 
long preserved during peace : the Prussian officers' corps ; the 
students at the universities ; and finally, a moderate number of 
patriotic authors and men of learning, to whom people now 
began to apply the new Spanish party-name of liberals. Prussian 
officers lived and moved among memories of the campaigns ; 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

with a vigorous sense of self-approval they regarded the re-estab- 
lished glory of their flag, while contemplating with profound 
discontent the rickety structure of the Germanic Federation and 
the disastrous issue of the peace negotiations. During the 
struggle they had learned to respect the warlike energies of the 
bourgeoisie, and had adopted into their own circle many valiant 
comrades from the ranks of the volunteers. Now, by the new 
Army Law, the education of all young men fit for military service 
was entrusted to their hands ; they came in contact with all 
classes of the population, and continued at the same time to pre- 
serve the free scientific spirit which had been awakened in them 
by Scharnhorst ; it was only in cases of isolated reversion that 
they continued to exhibit the caste arrogance of earlier days. But 
although the foreign powers and the minor German courts regarded 
with great suspicion the national pride and the fresh intellectual 
hfe of this people's army, the strictly monarchical sentiments of 
the officers remained completely inaccessible to all party aspira- 
tions. Their comrades of the Russian guard had for the first time 
become acquainted with the ideas of the Revolution during their 
stay in France, and had thence taken home with them revolutionary 
views which were subsequently to bear fruit in foolish con- 
spiracies. Upon the Prussian officers, on the contrary, the sight 
of the general perjury and the savage party struggles of the French 
exercised only a repellent influence ; now, as in the nineties, they 
prided themselves on their opposition to the Revolution ; they 
prided themselves on their antique Prussian loyalty to the throne, 
and were inclined to despise the new constitutional doctrine, if only 
for the reason that it was derived from France. Even Gneisenau, 
who, but a year before, had demanded the speedy completion of 
the Prussian constitution, returned home in a changed mood, and 
urgently advised that the canying out of such proposals should 
be allowed to mature with extreme slowness.* The only political 
idea which was passionately discussed in the letters and con- 
versations of the army, was the hope of a third Punic War, which 
should finally enable the Germans to secure their ancient western 
frontier and should restore to them a respected position among the 

Far more lively was the mood of the young volunteers who 
now returned from their regiments to the lecture theatres of the 
universities. Patriotic and religious enthusiasm, anger at the 
shameful peace, and obscure ideas regarding freedom and equality, 

* Gneisenau to Muffling, March 25, 1816. 

History of Germany 

which had, unconsciously for the most part, been borrowed from 
the despised French — all this was simmering confusedly in the 
heads of these Teutonising youths, generating a noble barbarism, 
which regarded as valid only the virtues of the citizen, and which 
avowed adhesion to the sajdng of Fichte, that it was better to 
have Ufe without science than science without life. Meanwhile 
the exaggerated national pride of Teutonism was too obviously 
in contradiction with the free broad-mindedness of our cosmo- 
poUtan people, to whom it was quite impossible to remain per- 
manently unjust to a foreign nation ; the contempt displayed for 
all grace and for refined culture was too un-German, the aspect 
of this arrogant student-community, now childishly touching, now 
almost ludicrous, was too sectarian for its political fanaticism 
to be effective throughout wide circles. The old rule still held 
good that the men of fifty and sixty years of age govern the world. 
Whilst the political war-cries of the patriotic writers foimd, indeed, 
approval in isolated instances among the older men, they did not 
awaken the strong passion which eventuates in action 

With more accuracy than Amdt did Hegel grasp the spirit 
of the time when he said that the nation had completed the work 
of rough-hewing, and could now once more turn its mind inward 
to the kingdom of God. The mighty harmonies to which the age 
of our classical poetry had given utterance were still resounding ; 
the rich treasures which during the last two generations the intel- 
lectual work of the nation had disclosed were by no means 
exhausted. The ambition of this thoroughly unpolitical genera- 
tion continued, undisturbed by all the prose of external life, to 
concern itself almost exclusively with the things of the spirit. To 
its best men, the days of the Napoleonic wars soon came to seem 
no more than an episode, like a hailstorm which had broken over 
the blooming garden of German art and science. Just as the 
common people once more returned to their ploughs, so the 
men of culture again took their pens in hand, not, like the 
former, in quiet renunciation, but inspired with the joyful conscious- 
ness that they belonged once more to themselves and their own 
inmost life. With astonishing distinctness now became visible 
that inward contradiction which, since the flourishing of the new 
literature, had come to exist in the character of our nation : those 
valiant Teutons who in the sagas of primitive heathendom had 
continually dreamed of war and victory, and who since then in 
each successive century had deafened the world with the clash 
of their swords, now esteemed warlike renown less highly than 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

did any other people ; they Hved in the belief that Germany's 
sharpest weapon was German thought. 

Throughout the world, the decade following the overthrow 
of Napoleon was a blossoming time of the sciences and the arts. 
The nations which had just been fighting so fiercely one with 
another, now engaged in a fine rivalry in respect of the fruits of 
their intellectual Hfe ; never before had Europe approximated 
so closely to that ideal of a free world-literature of which Goethe 
dreamed. In this peaceful rivalry, Germany took the first place. 
What a change from the days of Louis XIV, when our nation 
had been forced to go humbly to school to all the other nations 
of the west. Now the whole world revered the name of Goethe. 
The quaint guest-chambers of the Erbprinzen and of the Adler 
in Weimar were always full of distinguished Englishmen who 
desired to pay their respects to the prince of the new poetry. In 
Paris, Alexander Humboldt enjoyed a repute which exceeded 
that of almost any native man of learning ; when a stranger entered 
a hackney-coach and gave the address of the great traveller, the 
driver respectfully lifted his hat and said : " Ah ! chez M. de 
Humboldt ! " When Niebuhr came to Rome as Prussian ambas- 
sador, no one in the world-city ventured to contest with him the 
glory of being the first among all men of learning. 

Foreigners spoke little of our state, of its warlike deeds. To 
all the foreign powers the sudden revival in strength of the centre 
of Europe was disagreeable, and they all rivalled one another in 
the endeavour to consign to oblivion Prussia's share in the Ubera- 
tion of Europe. Not one of the foreign military historians who 
in these years of historical production described the most recent 
campaigns, did anything like adequate justice to the services of 
Blucher's headquarters staff. The old prestige of the Prussian 
army, which in the days of Frederick had been dreaded by all as 
the greatest army in the world, had by no means been re-established 
by the victories of Dennewitz and Belle Alliance. Since it is always 
difficult to gain a comprehensive view of the true course of a coali- 
tion war, the public opinion of Europe gladly contented itself with 
contemplating the simple conclusion that since the Prussians 
had been beaten when they fought alone at Jena they had been 
saved only by foreign help. For this reason, too, no one in foreign 
lands had any interest in the political institutions to which Prussia 
owed her freedom. Now, as before, Prussia remained the least 
known and the most completely misunderstood state of Europe. 
Moreover, the new Reichstag of Ratisbon, which now assembled 


History of Germany 

in Frankfort, aroused the scorn of Europe by its fruitless disputes. 
Soon after the wonderful uprising of our nation, the old and con- 
venient opinion became generally current that by a wise pro- 
vision of nature the German nation was foreordained to eternal 
weakness and dissension. All the more wilUngly did people 
recognise the intellectual greatness of this powerless nation ; it 
was solely to their artists and to their men of learning that the 
Germans owed the fact that by all the civilised peoples of the 
west they were once more regarded as one among the great nations. 
In foreign lands, they were now spoken of as the nation of poets 
and thinkers ; in the partition of the earth they should be content 
with the lot of the poet which Schiller ascribed to them, and, 
intoxicated with the divine hght, should be satisfied to lose the 
light of earth. 

For the first time since the days of Martin Luther, the ideas 
of Germany once more made the round of the world, and now 
found a more wiUing acceptance than of old had the ideas of the 
Reformation. Germany alone had already got completely beyond 
the view of the world-order characteristic of the eighteenth 
century. The sensuahsm of the days of enUghtenment had been 
long replaced by an ideaUst philosophy ; the dominion of reason 
by a profound religious sentiment ; cosmopolitanism by a delight 
in national peculiarity ; natural rights by a recognition of the 
living growth of the nations ; the rules of correct art by free poesy, 
bubbling up as by natural energy from the depths of the soul ; 
the preponderance of the exact sciences by the new historic o- 
sesthetic culture. By the work of three generations, those of the 
classical and of the romanticist poets, this world of new ideas had 
slowly attained to maturity, whereas among the neighbour nations 
it had hitherto secured no more than isolated disciples, and only 
now at length made its way victoriously through all the lands. 

With wonderful elasticity did France resume her intellectual 
labours after the long and heavy slumber of the imperial age. 
Madame de Stael's book upon Germany, which the Napoleonic 
censors had suppressed as an affront to the national pride, was 
now in everyone's hands, and gained everywhere adherents for 
German ideas, which were given the comprehensive name of 
romanticism. The dominion of the sensualist philosophy 
collapsed before the criticism of the doctrinaires ; a compact 
circle of men of talent, such men as Mignet, Guizot, and the 
Thierrys, opened to the French an understanding of the 
world of history. The age of Louis XIV, which even the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

revolutionary thinkers of the eighteenth century had still regarded 
as the epoch of classical beauty of form, began to lose 
its prestige, and soon there uprose a new school of poets 
to liberate France from the tyranny of academic rules, so 
that Victor Hugo could say with considerable truth of his own 
people that romanticism is in literature that which liberalism is 
in politics. Yet more vigorous and more direct was the exchange 
of ideas between Germany and England ; the Germans now 
repaid to the British what they had once received from Shakes- 
peare and Sterne. Walter Scott, the most fruitful and best-loved 
poet of the age, went to school to Biirger and Goethe, drawing 
from the profound spring of sagas and folk-songs which the Ger- 
mans had unlocked for the world ; by his historical romances the 
broad masses of the European reading public was first won over 
to romanticist ideals. Some of the Italians, too, above all Manzoni, 
entered the path of the new poetry ; but among this semi-antique 
people of Italy, romanticist poetry could just as Uttle attain to an 
undisputed dominion as had in former days the northern artistic 
form of Gothic architecture. 

Everywhere there was an awakening of spirit. In Germany 
itself, the wealth of this fruitful epoch seemed less striking than in 
neighbouring countries, for the classical age of our poetry had barely 
come to an end, and the great majority of the younger poets 
regarded themselves, when compared with the heroes of those 
great days, as nothing better than a generation of epigones. All 
the more powerfully and fruitfully did the creative energy of the 
German spirit unfold itself in the domain of science. Almost 
simultaneously appeared the epoch-making writings of Savigny, 
the brothers Grimm, Boeckh, Lachmann, Bopp, Diez, and Ritter ; 
whilst Niebuhr, the Humboldts, Eichhom, Creuzer, and Gottfried 
Hermann, went vigorously forward along the paths they had 
already opened. The current of new ideas flowed ever5rwhere 
unceasingly. There was an overplus of brilliant men, as there 
had been in former days when Klopstock led the revival of Ger- 
man poetry. And just as had previously been the case with the 
pioneers of our poetry, so now this new generation of learned 
men was permeated with an innocent and youthful enthusiasm, 
with a serene ambition which sought nothing more in the world 
than the blessedness of knowledge, and the increase of German 
glory through the activities of free investigation. 

The dry dust which had so long lain upon the works of German 
learning was, as it were, wafted away ; the new science felt itself 


History of Germany 

to be the sister of art. Its disciples had all drunk from the cup 
of beauty, and many of them had even received the determinative 
impressions of their lives in the circles of the poets. Diez con- 
tinued to cherish after many years the sheet of paper on which 
Goethe had once written for him the title of Reynouard's 
Proven9al researches, and had thus indicated to the young man 
the way to his life work. Boeckh and Creuzer had idled, revelled, 
and caroused so many nights with the enthusiasts of Heidelberg 
romanticism ; I. Bekker had delved with Uhland among the 
treasures of the Paris library ; the impish Bettina Arnim some- 
times played her mischievous tricks in the studies of Savigny and 
of the brothers Grimm. They all looked up with veneration to 
old Goethe, assembling round this central spirit to form as it were 
an invisible church, round this man who had received the veil of 
poesy from the hand of truth herself, and who incorporated the 
ideal of the age, the living unity of art and science, at once in his 
life and in his works. All endeavoured to express the results of 
their researches in a nobler and worthier form ; the chaste sim- 
pUcity of Savigny 's writings, the powerful sentiment and the 
abundance of unsought, vivid, and intuitive images in the pithy 
style of Jacob Grimm, put to shame the sugary artificiality of many 
later poets. In all the works of these investigators, a warm heart 
and that creative imagination which reshapes historic life had 
just as great a share as had industrious research and critical 

Just as the poetry of the previous generation had inspired 
the men of the rising generation, so the speculative work of the 
previous age made its way into the flesh and blood of the new 
science. It was only because the German spirit had so long been 
profoundly immersed in the problem of the unity of being and 
thinking, that that spirit now became able to diffuse itself through- 
out the world of history without becoming superficial and without 
losing itself in a mass of details. It was not in vain that all these 
young lawyers, philologists, and historians had sat at the feet of 
the philosophers. They wished to reach out through history 
into the secret of the human spirit itself ; they endeavoured, as 
W. Humboldt declared of himself, to gain a view of how man had 
come to be, and thus to acquire some idea of what man may be 
and ought to be, to approach more closely to the ultimate ques- 
tions of existence. Hence was derived the comprehensive outlook, 
the splendid multiplicity, of this generation of learned men. It 
was only so recently that the wide field of the world of history had 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

been first occupied ; whoever drove his ploughshare through this 
virgin soil, subsequently scattered the seed with no niggard hand, 
so that it was dispersed also upon his neighbour's land. Almost 
all the notable men of learning were simultaneously at work in 
several fields, and every one of them, when immersing himself in 
some particular form of study, never failed to keep his glance fixed 
upon the great interconnection of the sciences. It was the pride 
of this fruit-bearing generation to propound brilliant hypotheses, 
and to illuminate wide prospects which the scientific researches 
of individual workers in two successive generations have since 
made accessible to the whole world. 

Through the blossoming of science, the universities entered 
the foreground of the nation's spiritual life. They had ever taken 
a rich share in the struggles and transformations of German 
thought ; but now they assumed the leading position in the domain 
of the spirit, as they had done once before in the epoch of 
humanism and at the outset of the Reformation. University 
professors gradually acquired a determinative influence upon the 
activities and views of our nation, such an influence as they 
possessed in no other country ; among the leading authors of the 
ensuing decades, there were but few who had not held an academic 
position for a shorter or longer period. The university of BerUn 
soon outsoared all others ; here, during these years, there were at 
work the most ardent reforming minds in German science ; yet 
Berlin was never more than first among equals, for this country 
offered no opportunities for a centraHsation of culture. Never 
have our universities been so truly free, fulfilled with such 
profound inward happiness, as in these quiet years of peace. 
The quarrelsome youths brought home from the battle-fields, in 
addition to their unmannerly Teutonism, to their arrogant political 
dreams, a fine enthusiasm, and a warm receptivity for ideals ; the 
deplorable roughness and intemperance of earlier times did not 
return. Education remained free from corporate coercion and 
corporate tendencies, for all felt that in science everything was 
still in a state of youthful growth. No one was astonished when 
a man of learning, even of mature age, changed from one faculty 
to another, or when a philologian like Dahlmann, who had never 
heard a historical lecture, was summoned to the chair of history. 
When a man displayed the stuff of which a master is made, no 
one asked whose pupil he had been. Most of the university 
lecturers did their professorial work with admirable zeal ; but if 
a fine spring day lured them into the neighbouring hills, even 


History of Germany 

the most industrious among them did not hesitate to write up 
on the door of his lecture-theatre hodie non legitur. 

The students of all faculties thronged round notable teachers 
of philosophy, history, and philology, and many of them con- 
tinued to pursue such studies for years before thinking of engaging 
in a professional occupation for themselves. The classical state 
schools, avoiding mind-destro5dng polymathy, still knew how to 
awaken in their pupils a permanent deHght in classical activity 
and an impulse towards free human culture. The disease of the 
universities of to-day, the dread of examinations, was still 
almost entirely unknown. The princely schools of Saxony, and 
the convent schools of Wiirtemberg, anciently celebrated homes 
of classical learning, sent their senior students to the uni- 
versity as soon as the teachers considered that the time was ripe, 
the state leaving them to do as they thought best. Entry into 
the state service and the ecclesiastical service of the petty states 
was for the most part secured by young men who had finished their 
university career, and was secured by patronage, in accordance 
with the ancient patriarchal manner. It was only in Prussia, 
after the reorganisation of the administration by Frederick 
William I, that a system of regular state-examinations had come 
into existence, and from Prussia this mechanical ordering, which 
was unquestionably juster, and was demanded by the manifold 
relationships of a great state, gradually made its way into the 
petty states. But here also a very moderate standard was 
exacted, for the state needed many young officials for its new 
provinces. The idealistic tendency of the time forbade that 
studies should be anxiously directed with the view to the earning 
of a living. Youth still enjoyed undisturbed academic freedom ; 
everyone listened and learned as fancy directed him, if he did 
not prefer to pass his golden student days in the sole pursuit of 
uncontrolled enjoyments. 

Such was the life of the little learned republics, happy free 
states of absolute social equality and freedom from restraint, raised, 
as it were, above the pettiness of everyday life. Men of great 
talent, who in every other country would have demanded a wide 
staige for their activities, felt perfectly happy in the poverty and 
exiguity of these little university towns, with their ancient castles 
and narrow, winding streets, where every house had memories J 
of some merry wit among the students, or of some distinguished 
professor. Here science was supreme ; the professor, revered 
by a grateful audience, regarded himself with frank self-satisfaction. 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

Often enough there occurred fierce intellectual disputes, 
after the German manner ; the scientific opponent was apt to 
be regarded as a desecrator of the temple, for everyone was 
whole-heartedly devoted to his own researches. But these 
straightforward and frugal-minded men were Uttle troubled 
with vulgar ambition. They made it a point of honour to 
despise the display and comfort of material existence ; they still 
all firmly believed in the proud saying of Schiller : "In the end 
we are idealists, and would be ashamed that it could be said 
of us that things formed us, and not that we formed things." 

Even after decades had passed, in Tiibingen people used to 
speak of the wealthy bookseller Cotta, who had first introduced 
the unheard-of luxury of a sofa into the unpretentious town of 
the Muses. The youthful incompleteness of our civiUsation, 
which still knew nothing of the many-sided social activities of 
the life of great towns, redounded to the advantage of 
reflectiveness and the peaceful pursuit of scientific work. Like 
the classical poetry of an earlier day, so now the new research 
remained perfectly free, almost untouched by the favour of the 
court and by official influence ; not even the prosecution of 
the demagogues was able to disturb the inner life of science. 
Although now almost all the German states, nobly competing 
one with another, endeavoured to secure the activities of leading 
teachers for their respective universities, in the eyes of the courts 
and of the bureaucracy even a professor of European reputation 
was merely a professor, without rank at court. The man of 
science, on the other hand, looked down with all the pride of 
ideaUsm upon the aims of commercial Ufe. Every teacher 
appealed to the best intelligences among his pupils to devote 
^emselves entirely to science ; mediocrities were good enough 
T the handicraft work of the soldier and the official, and above 
all for the thoroughly despised world of business life. An 
comparably greater preponderance of the spiritual energies of 
e nation devoted itself to learned activities, and it remains a 
fine testimony to the fertility of this generation that, none the 
less, the officialdom now numbered among its ranks an extraordi- 
nary abundance of men of talent. 

Now, just as sixty years before, while the poUtical Ufe of 
the nation was flowing subdivided in innumerable streams and 
streamlets, it was only the authors and the men of learning who 
spoke directly to the nation as a whole. For this reason they 
regarded themselves as the chosen representatives of the people 

241 R 


History of Germany 

and of its highest goods ; it was but very slowly that a few 
politicians gained general repute beside them. The whole epoch 
exhibited, for good and for evil, the characteristics of a literary 
age. Even now, a poem by Goethe, an incisive criticism, or a 
learned feud, such as that between the symbolists and the 
critical philologians, aroused far greater interest among the 
leading spirits of the nation than did any event in the world of 
politics. Karl Immermann voiced the very spirit of this 
romantic age when he declared that he could not follow a 
parliamentary debate with attention, because he could not form 
any mental picture of such void abstractions. The complete 
sacrifice of the free personality in the service of the state 
remained no less antipathetic to this generation than was the 
life of political parties, with its voluntary limitations and its 
fundamentally unjust hatreds. To the German, the highest of all 
aims was still to live out his own life, to develop his own ego, 
in its free peculiarities, in all possible directions, and, as W. Hum- 
boldt expressed it, to pay more attention to the doing than to 
the deed. 

Although the dominant tendency of the age ran absolutely 
counter to the enlightened cosmopolitanism of the years before 
the Revolution, this romantic generation had none the less 
preserved many of the humanly lovable virtues of the philosophic 
century. The young Teutonisers might arrogantly decry 
French triviahty ; the leaders of science and art continued, after 
the old and genuine German manner, to exhibit gratitude and 
receptivity for every fine work of poetry and research, even 
if it came from much-abused France. Notwithstanding the 
mystical enthusiasm of the time, the old broad-minded 
tolerance still persisted. The contrasts of religious life had not 
yet become accentuated ; they did not as yet exercise, as they do 
to-day, a falsifying and embittering influence in the sphere of 
politics. No one was surprised if a liberal was at the same time a 
strict church Christian. To everyone it seemed perfectly in 
order that Catholic ecclesiastics should attend the consecration 
of a Protestant church ; even zealous converts like F. Schlegel, 
Stolberg, and Klinkowstrom remained on terms of cordial 
friendship with some of their old Protestant associates. The 
struggle of the literary parties did not render impossible the 
recognition of the human value of an opponent, nor exclude a 
genuine delight in every happy discovery. Uproarious youths 
prided themselves upon their Germanic strictness of morals ; 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

mature men displayed in their moral judgments a fine and 
liberal mildness, which was in truth far more German. 
Exhibiting consideration for human weakness, they placed little 
value upon that correctness of conduct which to the prudish sense 
of the present day appears to be the only token of morality, 
and willingly let a hot-blooded friend go his own way, if he 
would but co-operate in the work of a free human culture, and 
if only he did not lose faith in the divine destiny of our race. 

It was not without reason that the poets and men of 
learning looked down with contempt upon the prose of 
Philistinism. They lived in a free and intelligent sociability 
which knew how to ennoble life by the serene play of art and 
which approximately realised Schiller's ideal of an aesthetic 
education. The exchange of ideas in correspondence and 
conversation, the natural means for the intercommunication of 
daily impressions, had not yet been rendered obsolete by news- 
papers. There yet existed the basis of all social charm, the 
frank and daily intercourse between the two sexes, for women 
were still able to follow in their entirety the thoughts of men. 
There was not a town in the realm without its connoisseurs, 
collectors, and critics, without its circles of lovers of the theatre 
and of the arts. When the cheerful populace of the smaller 
towns assembled for their simple meals by the gloomy flickering 
light of tallow candles, all contributed according to their 
respective capacities in the way of riddles and witticisms, songs 
and rhymed toasts — since for many years past every cultured 
German had known how to provide on his own initiative for 
the poetic needs of the household. Social life was warmed by 
cheerful pleasures ; in a game of forfeits a kiss was still 
permissible in all honour ; the free-spirited girls of the day, who 
were none the less carefully trained for domestic life, still 
frankly admitted that Kathchen of Heilbronn was a figure 
altogether after their taste. In the narrower circles of the 
initiates how much fine intelligence and wit, how much merry 
humour and eager enthusiasm, now prevailed — as when Ludwig 
Devreint and Callot-Hoffmann celebrated their extravagant 
bacchanals all through the night in the taverns of Lutter and 
Wegner ; or when Lobeck and the Konigsberg philologians joined 
in a drinking-bout after the Greek manner, their heads crowned 
with roses, talking in Greek of the heroes of Homer and of the 
fortunate island of the Phaeacians. The social life of the day, 
notwithstanding its occasional beastliness and excesses, exhibited 


History of Germany 

none the less an abundance of noble intellectual enjoyments, of 
which music almost alone has been preserved amid the dulness 
and the weary ostentation of modem society. The women who 
had been young during those years, seemed, even in advanced 
age, to the posterity of a duller generation, to be illumined 
as by a poetic charm ; they won the hearts of all by their 
inexhaustible amiability, by their refined understanding of every- 
thing that is human. 

Doubtless there was also manifest at the same time an 
indication of the commencement of decay. Literature had for 
some time run to seed ; writers offered to readers what they 
thought the readers wanted, whereas the classical poets of 
earlier days had spontaneously expressed what already lay 
half-conscious in the soul of the nation. The love of novelty 
and the sensuaHty of the reading world were exploited by a mass of 
trivial light Hterature ; since a national style had not come into 
existence in any branch of creative literature, profounder natures 
readily lapsed into arbitrary and strained experiments, so that 
Goethe characterised these years as the epoch of forced talents. 
The fashionable intermingling of poetry and criticism rendered 
it easy for a barren dilettantism to increase beyond measure. 
Whoever moved in the circles of romanticism, repeating the 
catchwords of this school, and sometimes cudgelling his brains 
over the design for a drama or an epic poem, regarded himself 
as a poet, and forgot the consciousness of his incapacity in the 
favourite consolation that the artist was made in the world of 
thought and aspiration, and that Raphael, even if born without 
hands would have been the greatest of all painters. The terribly 
misused word " genius " was a charter for every folly, every 
extravagance. The straightforward human understanding was 
apt to be ruined by ingenious toying with new ideas and 
with surprising points of view. The belief in the boundless 
rights of the sovereign personality, the general desire to be 
something different from other men, led some to moral anarchy 
and others to vain self-admiration. With nervous sensitive- 
ness, people watched every breath of their own beautiful spirits. 
In the letters of Gcntz and in the memoirs of Rahel Varnhagen, 
the barometer plays the part of the mysterious elemental energy 
which bestows upon genius the dark and the bright hours. 

The thoughts of the nation were still so completely 
dominated by literature, that even the great contrasts of 
political and religious life frequently found expression in 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Pei':^ 

learned disputes. Such was the nature of the struggles 
between Savigny and Thibaut, between Voss and Stolberg. 
When Gottfried Hermann took the field against Creuzer and the 
symbolists, he regarded himself as the champion of freedom 
against the tenebriones, the men of darkness in the state and in 
the church. Even the purely poUtical parties, whose weak 
beginnings were now at length becoming manifest, emerged 
directly out of literary life. The immediate intervention of 
poHtical theory in the destiny of states, which so strikingly 
distinguishes modern history from the more ingenuous days of 
antiquity and of the middle ages, was nowhere more conspicuous 
than here in the land of learning. German hberaUsm sprang, 
not from the class interests of the wealthy and self-conscious 
bourgeoisie, but from the academic ideas of the professors. 
With the indefinite historical yearning for the great days of the 
old emperordom, which had first come into existence in literary 
circles during the epoch of foreign dominion, there gradually became 
intermingled the doctrines of the new philosophy regarding 
the natural right of the free personality ; to these were 
subsequently added a few phrases from Montesquieu and 
Rousseau ; and finally, in addition, a large proportion of the 
unconscious prejudices of the learned caste. Thus there came 
into existence a system of ideas which were supposed to 
correspond with the law of reason, and were to lead our 
nation through freedom back to the attainment of its ancient 
power. In the writings of Rotteck this doctrine was 
produced in a condition of complete elaboration, like a 
philosopher's system and, just Uke such a system, put forward 
a claim to perpetuate itself through the world by the might 
of reason, by its theoretical incontrovertibihty. The over- 
row of the Napoleonic world-empire had been effected solely 
y the power of ideas which had been bom in the circles of 
the brain-workers, had from these passed to the nation, had 
finally overpowered even the hostile crowns, and had led to the 
holy war — this view was assumed by literary poUticians to be 
indisputable ; thus it seemed that Germany's internal Hberation 
would also be well secured if only all parties would fully accept 
the sacred truths of the new constitutional doctrine, and would 
hold firmly to this creed with the faithful conviction of the man 
of learning or of the martyr of the church. To this generation 
of well-meaning doctrinaires it still remained altogether unknown 
that the state has power, and belongs to the realm of the 


History of Germany 

will. It was not until decades had passed, filled with crass 
confusions and profound disillusionments, that German party life 
could outgrow the cradle of doctrine and raise itself from a 
policy of behef to a policy of action. 

In the Latin countries, poetry, when it had attained to 
classical perfection, had everywhere and for a long period given 
form and direction to the spirit of the nation. So extreme was 
the stubbornness of the Germans that even during the golden 
days of Weimar they would never yield to the dominion of a rule. 
Whilst Schiller and Goethe still stood at the summit of their 
creative activities, romanticism was already beginning a fierce 
attack upon the classical ideal. When the War of Liberation 
had reduced the literary struggle to silence, the anxiety about 
the fatherland repressed all other thoughts ; the few writings 
which ventured forth during this wild time seemed to unite in 
advocating Christian and patriotic enthusiasm. But hardly had 
peace been concluded when the sharp contrasts which the 
manifold life of Germany contained, once more and in a moment 
broke forth into active hfe. Even half-forgotten thoughts from 
the first years of the Revolution, ideas which had been sup- 
posed to have been long outgrown, re-emerged into the Ught 
of day ; for it is the lot of every literature which is no longer 
in its first youth to find that at times the past once more comes 
to hfe, and that the shades of the dead take part in the struggles 
of the Uving. Rationahsm and religious sentiment, criticism 
and mysticism, natural rights and historical doctrines of the 
state, Nazarene and Hellenic ideals of nationalism and 
cosmopolitanism, liberal and feudal tendencies, struggled and 
intertwined in perpetual change. 

It was not merely the timid Gentz who complained in alarm 
that the long-desired time of peace had brought to the Germans 
a war of all against all. Even Arndt, who was ever sanguine, 
could not conceal his disgust when at the court of the young 
crown prince of Prussia he saw Alexander Humboldt, the 
advocate of a purely scientific cosmopolitanism, and at the same 
time the brothers Gerlach, hotspurs of Christo-Germanic 
religious fanaticism. He anxiously asked how, in view of the 
immeasurable divergence of sentiments, this nation could ever 
attain to internal peace, to firm decision. In the long run, 
indeed, the healthy sense of the nation succeeded in grasping 
and retaining all that was genuine and viable in this anar- 
chical confusion. Nevertheless, many a fine talent succumbed 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

hopelessly amid the confusion of opinions ; and whoever found 
courage to take part in the struggles of the German spirit had 
to be prepared to accept a lot of renunciation. Every notable 
intelligence, even if high above the sectarian spirit, was forced, 
willingly or unwilHngly, into the struggle of the literary parties 
and was extolled beyond measure by one faction, while being 
abused by the other with all the lack of restraint characteristic 
of German fault-finding ; those only who had attained to a great 
age might hope, like Savigny and Uhland, to secure belated 
recognition even from their opponents. 


Even in the serene and youthful days of our classical 
literature, unrestrained criticism had frequently hampered the 
free natural growth of poetry. Now, when during seventy years 
Germany had experimented in almost all conceivable artistic 
styles and had made trial of even more manifold aesthetic 
theories, artistic creation showed itself to be affected with the 
disease of learned over-refinement. No branch of poetic art 
suffered more severely in this respect than the drama, which 
needs popular favour as flowers need the sun. Goethe had 
good reason for calling the arrogant spokesmen of romanticism 
" starveUngs yearning for the unattainable " ; notwithstanding 
their talented flashes of thought and their high intentions, 
they completely lacked the gift of architectonic, the constructive 
and convincing energy of the creative genius. Although they 
had promised themselves to oust the classical ideal by a popular 
poetising, their works, after all, remained unknown to the 
people, and were the property of no more than a small circle of 
admiring connoisseurs. To them, art was, as it were, a magic 
philtre, one which the phiUstine was incapable of enjoying, and 
which was intoxicating to those alone who possessed divine 
grace ; under its influence these rare spirits forgot reality and 
smiled upon life as upon a foolish masque. This sovereign 
disdain which prided itself upon " pursuing sport as earnest 
and treating earnest as sport " conflicted with the healthy 
sentiment of the crowd. 

Of the older German dramatists, the romanticist art-critic 
would allow a high rank to Goethe alone, and Goethe had hardly 
thought of writing his most mature works for presentation on the 


History of Germany 

stage ; the peaceful sensual beauty of his Iphigenia and of his 
Tasso were not fully conceivable except to the mind of the 
reader. Lessing was no longer counted among the poets ; 
Schiller's tragic passion was mocked as empty rhetoric ; even 
Heinrich von Kleist, the one dramatist of genius whose outlook 
was closely akin to that of the romanticists, remained long 
imnoticed by the critics of this school. The two most efficient 
dramatists of the period, Iffiand and Kotzebue, who continued 
to dominate the stage even for a decade after their death, were 
regarded by the arrogance of the romanticists with such unjusti- 
fied contempt that youthful talent was necessarily frightened 
away from the drama. All that the romanticists could see in 
one of these writers was his honourable philistine sensibiUty, and 
all that they could see in the other was his insipidity and the 
commonness of his thought ; in neither could they recognise the 
exceptional technical talent, nor yet the fortunate gift of ready 
invention, whereby both put to shame their obscure critics. Of 
the dramatic endeavours of the romanticists themselves, but few 
ever appeared before the foot-lights, and all those that did thus 
appear stood the test badly. The leaders of the school soon 
turned their backs upon the stage, speaking with scorn of the 
common prose of theatrical success. Utterly regardless of the 
vital conditions of the modem theatre, which on five or seven 
nights a week had to satisfy an audience wearied by the cares 
of every-day life, dramatic theory constructed its stately cloud- 
pictures and made excessive demands, for which not even the 
splendid stage of the Hellenes could have furnished satisfaction. 
The heroes of our classical poetry had never had the same 
intimate relationships with the stage as in earlier days Shakes- 
peare or Molicire. Now, however personal intercourse between 
dramatists and play-actors became ever rarer. Dramatic art 
forgot that, above all other arts, it is its fine destiny to constitute 
a bond of unity between the higher and the lower strata of 
society. There gradually came to exist within our nation a 
momentous cleavage which down to the present day has remained 
a grave evil of German civilisation : the reading public separated 
itself as an aristocracy from the onlooking and listening public. 
A large proportion of the daily needs of the theatre came to be 
supplied by literary journeymen ; spectacular plays and bad 
translations from the French appealed to the sightseeing spirit 
of the crowd. Whoever esteemed himself one of the select circle 
of true poets, commonly loaded himself too heavily with the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

impedimenta of the jcsthetic doctrine to be able to act with that 
boldness, to laugh with that heartiness, which the stage demands 
from its rulers ; and such writers incorporated their dramatic 
ideas in bookish dramas. That mongrel type of poetry with which 
an over-elaborated modern culture cannot completely dispense, 
exhibited in Germany a more luxuriant growth than elsewhere. 
Here, upon the patient paper, all the complicated theorems and 
fantastical ideas of the wayward German intelUgence found 
free play : tragicomedies and plays for jeunes filles, in which every 
conceivable metre recurred in riotous confusion ; hidden allusions 
comprehensible only to the poet himself and to his intimates ; 
literary satires which made art the object of art ; and, finally, 
exotic poems of all kinds, which had to be read as if they were 

Among foreign prototypes, Calderon, in the judgment of 
initiates, occupied the first place. The German cosmopolitans 
would not see that this purely national poet ranked as a 
classic writer precisely because he had given artistic expression 
to the ideals of his epoch and of his nation ; they slavishly 
imitated his southern forms which in our northern speech 
sounded operatic and simply undramatic, and they transpwrted 
into the free Protestant world the conventional ideas of honour 
of the Cathohc knighthood. Much intelligence and much energy 
were wasted in such artifices ; at long last these pretentious 
activities effected nothing more than the destruction of all tradi- 
tional dramatic art-forms. But the poets grew accustomed to 
regard an ungrateful world with proud bitterness. Germany 
became the classic land of talent misunderstood. The excess of 
unsatisfied authors constituted a force of discontent in society, 
nourishing the national errors of fault-finding and hopeless 
moroseness. Subsequently, when political passions awakened, 
this contributed greatly to the embitterment of party struggles. 

Pushed to the grotesque seemed the moral and aesthetic weak- 
nesses of the romanticist epigones as displayed in the unsettled 
life of Zacharias Werner ; his dramatic talent failed to procure 
him fame because the virile art of the dramatist demands an 
entire man. Throughout life he vacillated restlessly to and fro 
between dissolute sensual desires and exaggerated ecstasy, between 
C3aiical commonness and lachrymose sentimentality, which could 
not refrain from praying beside the grave of a dog for the soul's 
peace of the deceased. Since his distracted spirit could find no 
consolation in " God and St. Rousseau," he ultimately took 


History of Germany 

refuge in Rome, in the bosom of the ancient church, cUnging 
in convulsive anxiety to the rock of Peter. Though the critical 
understanding of the East Prussian sometimes awakened in him, 
though the festival of the Uquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius 
appeared to him Uke a Peruvian idolatrous service, he deafened 
his doubts with the turmoil of his own ecstatic outcries. Then 
he went to Vienna, in the days when the nimble-minded 
Father Hoffbauer had for the first time founded a strict eccle- 
siastical party in the pleasure-loving town, and had collected 
a crowd of converts around himself. Werner joyfully accepted 
all the views of this clerical circle, and countered the songs of 
freedom of the North German youth with the song " Let the 
watch-cry be, the old time becomes new ! " During the days of 
the Vienna congress he was the favourite preacher of the fashion- 
able world. Half repentant and half diverted, elegant Vienna 
listened while the long, lean priest with the sinister dark eyes 
raised his powerful bass voice, now describing in glowing 
colours the molten sulphur pool of eternal damnation, and now 
depicting, with a thorough personal knowledge and with hardly 
concealed satisfaction, the aberrations of sensuality. Growth 
and nobiUty were lacking in his poetic creation as they were 
lacking in his hfe. His youthful dramas displayed strongly 
realistic talent and a living sense of historic greatness ; in 
isolated scenes of Die Weihe der Kraft the mighty figure of Martin 
Luther, and the high-spirited, richly-coloured hfe of our sixteenth 
century, are vigorously and vividly displayed. Intermingled 
therewith was, indeed, a morbid delight in the ghastly, the 
horrible, and the savage : that enigmatic combination of fervour 
and belief, voluptuousness and bloodthirst, which repels us in 
the natural religions of immature peoples, seemed to come to life 
once more in this unhappy man. After his conversion, with the 
zeal of the penitent, he recanted his finest drama, and wrote a 
pitiable work entitled Die Weihe der Unkrafi. In his last play, 
Die Mutter der Makkabder, he already displayed the lack of 
principle of a partially deranged mind, endeavouring to conceal 
the poverty of his religious sentiments behind turgid hymns and 
horrible images of martyrs. 

More effective than Werner's historical tragedies, was his 
" fate-tragedy," published in 1815, Der vierundzwanzigsie Fehniar, 
a master-work of its kind, aiming at the production of physical 
horror. The tragical destiny did not here arise by internal 
necessity out of the character of the actors, but out of the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

enigmatical sorcery of a momentous anniversary, and the 
astonished reader, notwithstanding the subHme insight afforded 
into the rationahty of the moral world, bore away nothing but 
an impression of unaccountable horror. Since the novelty of this 
extravagant conceit attracted attention, and since in any case 
the romantic world was inclined to seek profound significance in 
mania, it was natural that an adroit producer should soon be 
found to elevate the whimsy into a system, with characteristic 
German wrongheadedness. Adolf Milliner, the lawyer of 
Weissenfels, composed a drama, Die Schuld, and subsequently in 
innumerable critical writings developed the theory of the new 
fate-tragedy. According to this theory, a higher world-order, 
more mysterious even than the bUnd destiny of the ancients, 
intervened in earthly Ufe ; and by some foolish chance, by a 
broken string, by some sinister place or day, overwhelmed unsus- 
pecting mortals with destruction. In this way, everything which 
the Protestant world had ever conceived regarding tragical 
blame and responsibility was once more placed in question by 
the unbridled love of innovation of the romanticist doctrine, and 
it seemed as if our art of tragedy was to end in self-annihilation. 
Milliner made himself at home in three literary p)eriodicals at once, 
loudly trumpeted the long series of his own works, and alarmed 
his opponents by his filthy coarseness. For some years the 
fundamentally prosaic man continued to occupy the throne he 
had usurped, and the repute of German poetry was now so 
firmly estabUshed throughout the world that even foreign 
periodicals spoke with credulity of the new dramatic revelation. 
Then the fate-tragedy suffered the inevitable destiny of stilted 
nonentity : the public began to weary of it and turned to other 

The art of dramatic presentation also suffered from the 
decline in dramatic poetry. How many talented monographs 
upon the theatre as a means of national education had already 
been published, and yet, among all German statesmen. Stein 
alone had made this idea his own, and had drawn the conclusion 
that it is the duty of the state to care for the stage. When, on his 
retirement, he sketched the plans of Prussian governmental 
reorganisation, he placed the theatre, as well as the academy of 
arts, under the control of the department of pubUc instruction ; 
yet, barely two years later, they were by Hardenberg brought 
back into the domain of public amusement, and, with the 
exception of the court theatre, were subjected to police supervision. 


History of Germany 

In the royal capitals, the support of the court theatres was 
generally held to be a personal duty of the sovereign, and it 
soon became manifest that such theatres had more to expect from 
the free-handedness of artistically disposed princes than from the 
frugal petty-bourgeois sentiments of the new diets. Hardly had 
the Stuttgart stage, in the year 1816, been elevated to the 
position of a national theatre and had been nationally financed, 
when the diet began to complain of extravagance, and cheerfully 
acquiesced, three years later, when the king declared himself 
prepared to strike the maintenance of the court theatre out of the 
civil list. For the most part the monarchs cared with commend- 
able zeal for the external equipment of their theatres, as well as 
for the emplo5mfient of notable individual talent ; the old social 
prejudice against actors soon became mitigated when the stage 
was seen to be in such close association with the court. 

None the less, the histrionic art gained little through the court 
theatres. After the death of Iffland, Frederick WiUiam entrusted 
Count Briihl with the management of the court theatre of Berlin. 
Briihl was an amiable and highly-cultured man, but neither 
dramatic poet nor actor, and he had merely assimilated, with the 
zeal of a talented connoisseur, the strict classical principles of 
the theatrical school of Weimar. The dangerous example was 
quickly followed ; soon at all the courts the office of theatre- 
intendant was reckoned among the high court dignities, the 
control of the greatest German theatres was taken out of the 
hands of skilled experts and placed in those of high-bom dilettantes. 

Yet the good traditions of earlier days still persisted for a 
time. The lack of fine new pieces was not yet too plainly percep- 
tible, for the dramas of the classical epoch could still count upon 
general acceptance, and the works of Shakespeare now for the 
first time became fully established upon the German stage. The 
court theatres of Berlin, Munich, Carlsruhe, and Brunswick, 
were distinguished by many excellent performances, and the 
same was true of the long celebrated theatre of Hamburg and of 
the new municipal theatre of Leipzig. In Berlin, the realist 
tendency, which had here in former days gained dominion 
through the work of Fleck, found a talented representative in 
Ludwig Devrient. What sinister and diabolic energy was dis- 
played in his Richard HI, what an extravagance of exuberant 
humour in his Falstaff ! Almost more astonishing was the 
ability with which he played minor parts ; his Knccht Gotts- 
chalk, in Kdthchen von Heilbronn, so admirably presented simple 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

loyalty and truthfulness that in the souls of the audience there 
was awakened in a moment an understanding of the pristine 
energy and greatness of old German life. None the less, the firm 
artistic discipUne of the stage became gradually more and more 
relaxed. The new romanticist ethics encouraged every man of 
talent to press recklessly towards the front, and to emphasise 
his own pecuHarities ; while the distinguished intendants had 
neither the technical knowledge which might have empowered 
them by their own example to maintain in the company a unity 
of style, nor yet had they sufficient prestige to enable them to 
keep the individual members within bounds. The brilliant new 
court theatres were no longer able to display such equably 
cultured and harmonious performances as had formerly produced 
delight in Hamburg in the days of Ekhof , and in BerUn in the days 
of Iffland. Moreover, dramatic criticism had for some time 
established itself like a noxious fungus upon the healthy tree of 
dramatic art. It had already become the rule that every aspiring 
senior school-boy or university student should win his literary 
spurs by dramatic criticism ; almost every man of culture occa- 
sionally exercised his powers in the tragical handicraft of the 
critical spoil-sport. By far the majority of these notices had the 
sole aim of winning renown for the writer by arrogant distribu- 
tion of blame ; or else of giving rise to party struggles in 
theatrical spheres, struggles in which the populace in the small 
towns took part with passionate zeal. The trouble became still 
greater when the political prosecutions began. Thenceforward 
theatrical criticism remained the only domain in which the pens 
of the newspaper writers could run freely, for Count Bem- 
storff, the minister of state, said " the snappish dogs must be 
left at least one bone to worry ! " 

There were but two poets of this epoch who succeeded in 
enriching the theatre with works at once suitable for the stage 
and possessed of permanent artistic value. These were the first 
two Austrians since the Thirty Years' War to win for themselves 
an honourable place in the history of German poesy. Just as, 
long ago in the thirteenth century, the remote lands of the 
Danube had fortunately preserved the ancient German national 
epic, when the rest of Germany had long turned already to 
knightly poetry, so now these same regions had remained almost 
untouched by the wealth of thought, but untouched also by 
the errors of the doctrinaire over-refinement of our literary 
revolution. When now at length a few fine intelligences in 


History of Germany 

Austria became aware of the world of new ideas which had been 
opened up in Germany, they occupied a position of fortunate 
freedom in relation to the catchwords of our literary parties. 
From a distance, more unrestrainedly than the Germans in the 
German realm, they could discover that which was genuine and 
great in the powerful movement. Their public was one which 
loved spectacles and was gratefully receptive, a pubhc whose 
naive and vigorous sensuality had not yet been corrupted by 
learned criticism. They had also before their eyes the fine 
example of the great musicians of Austria, who all held in honour 
the golden soil of handicraft, and who did not think themselves 
too good to work straightforwardly for the stage. 

It was just at this time that the Burgtheater, under the 
skilful management of Schre5rvogel, began to outsoar all the 
theatres of Germany. Here the Viennese learned to know the 
finest dramas of Germany, presented artistically and yet simply ; 
the admirable dramaturge knew so well how to bring even foreign 
works near to the German spirit by clever adaptation, that such 
a play as Moreto's Donna Diana seemed almost as homelike to 
the audience as a native comedy. Here there was no field for 
subtle artificiaHty. The result was that even Franz Grillparzer 
was infected, on one occasion only, by the theoretical priggishness 
of German romanticism. His first work. Die Ahnfrau, was a 
fate-tragedy ; the tragical issue arose, not out of the free activity 
of the hero, but from " intimately concealed and obscure powers." 
But the beauty of the language and the ardour of the passion, 
the stormy progress of the action, and the remarkable and 
precocious security of the technique, make us almost forget the 
perversity of the fundamental idea. Soon, too, the sound sense 
of the poet broke completely loose from the fetters of the artistic 
theories of Miillner. In his tragedies Sappho and Das goldene Vliess 
there were displayed purity of form, precision of character- 
drawing, German seriousness, and the fine and truthful sensuality 
of the old Austrians — a happy fusion of classic and of romantic 
ideals. To him, henceforward, Goethe remained the master 
beloved with childish veneration, and Weimar the consecrated 
focus of German life. In the historical dramas of a later period 
of his activity, Grillparzer created nothing greater than the 
elemental character of Mcdca in Das goldene Vliess ; notwith- 
standing his high artistic diligence he was denied continuous 
development. Not his one of those mighty spirits which in 
irresistible progress gradually come to illumino wider and ever 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

wider circles of the world with the light of their ideas ; but his 
was an amiable and modest artist's nature, he was a true poet, 
who, even in the days of the decadence, preserved with invaluable 
loyalty the traditional ancient principles of dramatic idealism, 
and was the worthy herald of the new German poetry in Austria. 
Soon afterwards another Austrian, Ferdinand Raimund, 
conquered a new domain for German dramatic art. For years, 
upon the boards of the Leopoldstadt theatre, he had delighted 
the audience by his masterly acting as a comedian ; and when 
now in all modesty he devoted himself to providing his little 
stage with new matter elaborated by himself, he did not produce, 
as have done the majority of actor-playwrights, pieces carefully 
designed to draw a full house and possessing grateful roles, but 
created works of national art. He was the originator of the new 
fairy extravaganza, and since the days of Hans Sachs was the 
first German poet who really understood how to enthral the 
whole population with the stage, and who dehghted the masses 
by poetic works in which even cultured persons could take cordial 
pleasure for a time. In this child of Vienna, the delight in telling 
stories was inborn ; from the medley of folk-life he drew his 
merry figures, having an inexhaustible supply of those genial 
jests and foolish conceits which the Austrians and the Upper 
Saxons are accustomed to greet with the delighted exclamation, 
" Look here, that is really too absurd ! " But behind the unre- 
strained and sportive action, there was the half-hidden humour 
of a profound disposition smiling through tears. How firmly, 
too, was the ancient German moral idealism still estabUshed in 
those blameless days of social peace ! Raimund continually 
returned to the question of what is the true happiness of life, 
which to the oppressed man of the common people remains the 

I highest of all moral problems ; and ever and again, whether he 
was representing the spendthrift, the misanthrope, or the peasant 
as millionaire, he allowed the audience to perceive that happiness 
is to be found only in peace of the soul. The masses believed 
him ; the old German folk-songs extolling cheerful poverty had 
not yet been forgotten. Among the numerous imitators of the 
unpretentious folk-poet none came near to the master. The folk- 
comedy rapidly became brutalised ; pithy bluntness degenerated 
into slovenliness, kindly wit became tedious punning, ingenuous 
simplicity sank to dulness. It was not until a much later period, 
during an epoch of embittered political and social struggles, 
that in North Germany a new form of farce came into existence, 


History of Germany 

which in vsdt and incisiveness excelled these innocent fairy-tales 
just as much as it was inferior to them in humour and poetic 
content. _ 

As far as narrative poetry was concerned, the insatiable 
passion for writing and reading characteristic of the epoch 
became a source of severe temptation. Never before had so 
vast a number of busy pens been simultaneously at work in 
all branches of literature. The catalogue of the books which the 
Leipzig booksellers had on sale at the fair, swelled to become a 
volume of inconvenient size. In every town a lending library 
provided for the needs of the reading public. The customs 
characteristic of an old-established prosperity could not yet 
become developed in this impoverished land ; the Germans found 
no shame in the fact that they read more and bought fewer books 
than any other people. Nevertheless certain works already 
secured a sale which was unheard-of according to the ideas of 
the old times : for instance, Rotteck's Allgemeine Weltgeschichte, 
Zschokke's Stunden der Andacht, and the translations of Walter 
Scott's novels. In the year 1817, Friedrich Konig, the inventor 
of the cylinder-press, returned home, cmd at Oberzell near 
Wiirzburg founded his great printing establishment which ren- 
dered it possible for the book-trade to work for the needs of 
the masses. Since people gradually became accustomed to 
accept greedily every novelty in the domain of science and art, 
discontent was soon felt with the simple classical education upon 
whose fruitful soil the new German civilisation had flourished. 
No longer did it suffice to give the mind a strictly formal culture, 
rendering it possible, starting from a narrow circle of well-secured 
knowledge, to develop gradually, but freely and continuously, 
and to acquire new knowledge through independent work. 
Under the high-sounding name of " reaUstic culture," there was 
now demanded a variegated abundance of disconnected memo- 
randa, which might enable everyone to converse about everything. 
People were ashamed of the frank admission of ignorance ; no 
one wished to remain in the background when conversation 
flitted rapidly from the fate-tragedy to the Spanish constitution 
or from phrenology to the new English steam-engine. 

The alert F. A. Brockhaus, with the secure insight of the 
experienced bookseller, noted this powerful impulse of the time, 
and from the year 1818 onwards engaged in the elaboration of 
an older and hitherto little noticed compilation, to constitute a 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

great encyclopaedia which, in a convenient alphabetic arrange- 
ment, placed at the disposal of cultured Germans " all that it was 
desirable to know." This was the beginning of that gigantic 
pons asinorum literature which distinguished the nineteenth 
century, by no means to its advantage. The undertaking, which 
was as un-German as its name {Konversalionslexikon), none the 
less found acceptance in wide circles, and there speedily followed 
numerous imitations ; this generation, burdened with the heri- 
tage of so many centuries, could no longer get along without 
such crutches. Neibuhr watched with unconcealed disgust the 
transformation which was gradually taking place in national 
customs ; he foresaw how uneasy, empty-headed, and desultory, 
how dependent in its modes of thought, the modem world must 
become, if the empty arrogance of half knowledge and of poly- 
mathy, if the desire for continually changing impressions, should 
get the upper hand. In a world so fond of reading, a refined 
sense of form speedily became blunted. What was desired above 
all was material stimulation, and since every epoch has the 
authors which it demands and deserves, there was to be found 
an army of busy romance writers satisfied to provide for the 
needs of the moment, and to have their names current for a few 
years in the critical periodicals. It remained henceforward a 
distinctive characteristic of the new century that works of true 
poetry lay, like isolated nuggets, dispersed throughout a colossal 
rubbish-heap of worthless light Uterature, and that they were 
discovered only after a considerable time amid the masses of 
inferior matter. In those unpretentious days, however, it was 
not, as in our own time, the money-making impulse which led so 
many interlopers to the German Parnassus ; it was as a rule 
vanity and literary fashion. Just as in the drama, so also in 
le field of romance and novel-writing, those of a truly poetic 
lature seldom displayed a talent for composition, whilst the 
drtuosi of absorbing and fascinating narrative just as rarely 
exhibited the formative energy of the poet. 

In consequence of the stem reaUsm of the war, that lachry- 

lose sentimentality which had before been chiefly nourished by 

le writings of Jean Paul, had for a brief period been forced into 

le background. Now, however, it regained its sway ; in many 

'of the houses of North Germany there prevailed a tasteless, 

sickly-sweet tone. Many vigorous men of the present generation 

who grew up in this sentimental atmosphere were filled thereby 

with such loathing that throughout life they earnestly avoided 

257 S 

History of Germany 

every expression of aroused sensibilities. The insipid scribbler 
H. Clauren was the writer best suited to the taste of the great 
reading public. Fashionable ladies delighted in the heavenly 
steel engravings and the moving novelettes of the pocket- 
companions which were then in fashion : " Urania," " Aurora," 
" Alpine Roses," " Forget-me-Not," or " Evergreen," stood upon 
the title-page of the elegant gilt-edged volumes. Upper Saxony, 
which in former days had so often intervened decisively in the 
mental development of the nation through the activities of 
vigorous reforming spirits, was for some decades the principal 
seat of this light literature ; it was as if the " Gottshed-Weisse- 
Gellert flood " once mocked at by the young Goethe, had 
again broken over the beautiful country. In Dresden, Friedrich 
Kind and Theodor Hell, with a few other equally meek and 
gentle poets, met weekly at a " poets' tea," displaying for mutual 
admiration and regarding with invincible mutual politeness their 
dull novels, which were worthy of the Chinese beverage — novels 
that were then published in the widely-read Abendzeitung. Carl 
Bottiger, most prolific of critics, then hastened, as Goethe said, 
" to hail as masterpieces the pap of theee bunglers and scrawlers." 
Ludwig Tieck, who had also removed to the charming town 
on the Elbe, distinguished himself by holding aloof from this 
void activity. It was plain to him that the mysterious " poesy 
of poesy," upon which the romanticists prided themselves, 
was essentially nothing more than ingenious connoisseurship. 
Although his admirers ranked him immediately after Goethe, 
he was numbered among those who are rather than do. Since in 
these days he was but rarely seized with the overwhelming 
creative impulse of the poet, he threw himself with a fine zeal, 
and with his highly-praised " powers of rapid perception," into 
the study of the Shakespearian drama. What he effected by 
word of mouth, and by his pen, in the elucidation and imitation 
of the great Englishman, was in reality more fruitful for German 
life than were the shapeless romances and the literary-satirical 
dramatised tales of his youth, which failed to appear as the 
ingenuous children of fancy, precisely because they themselves 
declared with conscious intention that " they were completely 
unreasonable," How many youthful p>oets and dramatists 
gained their first inkling of the true nature of art in the old house 
in the Altmarkt, when the poet, in his celebrated evening read- 
ings, displayed to his hearers, with a truly sympathetic energy, 
the whole world of Shakespeare's figures in all their abundant 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

vitality. Tieck early attained celebrity, and while still in his 
prime was regarded as a patriarch of German poetry. The 
paralytic man with the clear eyes of the poet received good- 
naturedly and with sympathetic understanding the young men 
who came to him on pilgrimage, and although his inspired words 
now and again conveyed strange impressions, his gaze remained 
ever directed towards the altitudes of humanity ; again and 
again he referred his young admirers to the sacred four, the 
masters of the new art — Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, and 
Goethe. It was not until after many years that he himself 
resumed the writing of poetry. Even more than Tieck had the 
brothers Schlegel become estranged from poetic creation, 
Friedrich Schlegel was completely immersed in the intrigues of 
ultramontane policy. August Wilhelm Schlegel pursued his 
historical and philological studies in Bonn, an ornament of the 
new Rhenish university ; the small foppish old gentleman was 
always venerated by the students as the representative of a 
prolific epoch which had given birth to the new science. 

It was only in the young poets who had formerly assembled 
in Heidelberg that the poetic vein did not run dry. No one had 
wandered farther into the labyrinths of the romantic dream-life 
than had Clemens Brentano. Half rogue, half enthusiast, to-day 
high-spirited to the verge of insanity, to-morrow crushed and 
contrite, a riddle to himself and to the world, the restless man 
now wandered from one town to another in the Catholic south, 
and now turned up in Berlin in order to read to the brothers 
Gerlach and to the other Christo-Germanic members of the 
Maikdfer-Gesellschaft his essay upon the philistines, the audacious 
declaration of war of the romanticists against the world of 
reality. He greeted the War of Liberation with loud rejoicing, 
but just as little as Zacharias Werner could he accommodate 
himself to the North German Protestant tone of the movement ; 
how strangely forced and artificial seemed his war poems, mostly 
written for the glorification of Austria : 

Through God and thee, Francis, 'tis shown. 
What Austria wills, she can do ! 

ubsequently his mystical tendency led him into vulgar supersti- 
tion ; he spent several years by the sick-bed of the stigmatised 
nun of Dulmen, and recorded his observations upon the miraculous 
woman in ecstatic writings. And yet the serene, heavenly light 


History of Germany 

of poetry again and again made its way through the mists in 
which his sick spirit was enveloped. Hardly had he finished 
giving free rein to his distorted fancy in the wild fantasia of 
Die Grilndung Prags, an unhappy imitation of Kleist's Penthe- 
silea, when he pulled himself together, and actually succeeded in 
doing that which men of learning had hitherto vainly demanded 
of romanticism — ^in producing popular matter in a popular form. 
He created his masterpiece, Geschichie vom braven Kaspar und 
dem schonen Annerl, the prototype of German village stories. 
With perfect justice Freiligrath subsequently praised him in the 
following words : " Well did Brentano know the feelings of the 
lowly. No other writer has described so frankly and faithfully 
that which gives its simple greatness to the mental life of the 
common people — the pent-up energy of untutored passion, vainly 
struggling for expression and then suddenly breaking out into 
consuming flame." No less unequal remained Brentano's activi- 
ties in subsequent years. The romanticist epicures admired his 
story of the barn-door fowls, Gockel, Hinkel, and Gackeleia ; 
they could not prize enough the way in which here an artificial 
conceit was hunted to death, the way in which the life of fowls 
and the life of himian beings were confused one with another 
in childish sportiveness. Meanwhile, in his better hours, he 
wrote his Mdrchen, valuable stories of Father Rhine ; of the 
nixies, and of the crystal castle down beneath the green waters, 
pictures displaying roguish charm, as dreamily lovable as the 
Rhenish summer night. 

The far stronger and clearer spirit of his friend Achim von 
Amim found no satisfaction in the world of fable. At an earlier 
date, in Grdfin Dolores, Amim had manifested high realistic 
talent ; now, in his romance Die Kronenwdchter , he ventured on 
to the high seas of historic life, vigorously incorporating with his 
energetic and invincible realism the figures of German antiquity, 
displaying all the racy frankness, the rough sensuality of old 
Germany, the uncultivated rudeness of its camp morals, and the 
disputatiously defiant spirit of the burghers of its imperial 
towns, showing these to his readers sharply and clearly, like the 
figures of Diirer's wood-cuts. Yet even to this favoured 
disciple of the romanticist school there was denied that orderly 
artist-sense which controls the abundance of the matter. In his 
romances, the simple and the rare pass immediately into one 
another without transition, as in life ; the narrative is choked by 
a thick brambly growth of episodes ; sometimes the writer loses 

Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

all interest, and sweeps the figures from the board like an 
impatient chess-player. Despite all its greatness of thought 
and all its depth of feeling, his work lacks the balance and the 
unity of the highest art. 

Far greater approval was secured among the mass of the 
reading world by Amadeus Hoffmann, the only novel writer who 
in fertility and resource could compete with the busy little 
writers of the pocket-companions. In his extraordinary double 
life was incorporated the contradictory romanticist morality, 
which wantonly broke down every bridge between the ideal and 
the real, and disdained on principle the use of art to glorify Hfe. 
When he had spent the day in cross-examining the arrested 
demagogues and in the conscientious and thorough study of the 
criminal records of the Court of Appeal, the time came with the 
evening for the sun of his dream-world to rise. Not a word then 
must any longer remind him of the phantasmagoria of hfe, then 
he passed his time carousing with merry intimates or extemp>o- 
rising with musical friends. Thus inspired, he wrote fantasies after 
the manner of Callot, such as Die Elixiere des Teufels, and 
Die Nachtstiicke, weird stories of demons and spectres, of dreams 
and wonders, of madness and crime — the most uncanny ever 
produced by an over-wrought imagination. It was as if the 
devil-faced gargoyles had descended from the gutters of our 
ancient cathedrals. The hideous spectre came so threateningly 
close, was so plainly perceptible to the senses, that the reader, 
as if paralysed by a nightmare, was sf>ellbound, accepting every- 
thing presented by the bold humour and the diabolical charm 
of the masterly story-teller. Yet ultimately of the crazy sport 
nothing remained but the dull numbness of physical terror. 

I Whilst in the fields of drama and romance so much that was 
"mpish was pursuing its restless activities, the lyrical poetry of 
romanticism attained perfection in Ludwig Uhland, When his 
poems were published in the year 1814, the matter-of-fact man 
was ignored by the critics of this school. This worthy petty- 
bourgeois seemed the very antithesis of the romanticist itch for 
genius. In Paris he passed his days in diligent study of the 
manuscripts of old French poetry, spending his evenings silently 
pacing the boulevards in the company of the no less silent 
Immanuel Bekker, mouth open and eyes closed, quite unaffected 
by the alluring brilliancy and the temptations by which he was 
surrounded. Subsequently leading a simple and well ordered 


History of Germany 

life in his native town on the Neckar, he did not think himself 
too good to participate in word and action in the prosaic consti- 
tutional struggles of Wiirtemberg. Yet it was precisely this 
healthy naturalness and bourgeois efficiency which enabled the 
Swabian poet to keep wisely within the limits of artistic form, 
and to provide for romanticist ideals a lively configuration 
which was in harmony with the consciousness of the age. A 
thoughtful artist, he remained completely indifferent to the 
literary disputes and aesthetic doctrines of the schools, waiting 
patiently for the coming of the time of poetic ecstasy which 
brought to him the blessing of song. He then appHed inexor- 
ably to his own works the critical acumen which other poets 
dissipated in the literary newspapers ; alone among German 
writers he exhibited an inflexible artist's pride in retaining in 
his desk all that was half finished or half successful. His poetic 
energies were first awakened by the heroic figures of our ancient 
poetry, by Walther von der Vogelweide, and by those in the 
Nibelungenlied. In the poems of antiquity he deplored the 
absence of the profound background which allures the fancy 
into the distances, but an inborn and strictly schooled sense of 
form preserved him from the obscure exuberance of mediaeval 
poetry. This classicist of romanticism presents his figures to our 
minds in firm and secure lineaments. 

Whereas the earher romanticists were for the most part 
attracted to the German primaeval age by the fantastic stimulus 
of the strange and of the antique, what Uhland sought in the 
past was the purely human, that which was ever hving, and 
above all that which was homely — the simple energy and 
cordiahty of the uncultured Teutonic nature. To him the study 
of the sagas and songs of old Germany seemed " a real migra- 
tion into the profounder nature of German folk-life." He felt 
that the poet, when dealing with matter belonging to a remote 
period, must give expression to such sensations only as will find 
an echo in the souls of his contemporaries, and he remained ever 
clearly conscious of the wide separation between the ages. Never 
did his delight in the multi-coloured beauties of the middle ages 
estrange him from the Protestant and democratic ideas of the 
new century. The same poet who sang so movingly of the 
heroes of the crusades, sang also with enthusiasm of the Tree 
of Wittenberg, which, with giant branches thrusting upward 
towards the light, grew through the roof of the monk's cell ; he 
gladly associated himself, too, with the martial singers of the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

War of Liberation, and bowed himself humbly before the heroic 
greatness of the new-risen fatherland : 

" After such heroic sacrifices 
What are these songs worth to thee ? " 

With vigorous scorn he turned his back upon the pseudo- 
muse of the sugary romanticist masters, of the tricksters with 
assonance, and of the sonneteers, holding firmly to the saying 
of the earliest writers, " Plain speaking and good feeling make 
the true German song." Vivid popular expressions streamed 
spontaneously forth from this master of vigorous language. So 
easily did his unaffected verses seem to run, so freshly and 
serenely did his figures move, that readers failed to notice how 
much artist's diligence was concealed behind the purity of these 
simple forms, how deeply the poet had had to explore the 
wells of knowledge before Roland and Taillefer, Eberhard der 
Rauschebart, and Schenk von Limburg could be presented in so 
familiar and convincing a manner. He chose by preference for his 
narratives the form of the dramatic ballad, so well suited to the 
passionate Teuton temperament; on rare occasions, where the 
nature of the matter demanded it, he employed the quietly-record- 
ing minutely-descriptive southland romance form. It was not 
detail which seemed to him important, but its reflection in the 
aroused human heart. The most intimate recesses of the 
German temperament lay open to him, and with extraordinary 
success at times, in a few unpretentious words, he was able to 
disclose some intimate secret of our people. More simply than 
in the poem of Der gute Kamarad there has never been given 
an account of the way in which the contentious Teutons have 
.always been ready for the fray, from the days of the Cimbri to 
ithe days of the French wars — eager for battle and devotedly 
Ipious, so kind hearted and so loyal. 

Even in his narrative verses the power of sentiment was so 
[strongly displayed that many poems which he himself termed 
[ballads soon became popular as songs. It was on account of his 
jsongs in especial that he was beloved of the people, who hailed 
him joyfully, at first in his Swabian home, and afterwards 
t throughout Germany, so that he ultimately became the most 
popular of all our great poets. In the straightforward, pro- 
foundly felt words describing the joys and the sorrows of love, 
the happiness of the wanderer and the pain of parting, the 


History of Germany 

pleasures of wine and of arms, everyone, whether gentle or simple, 
rediscovered memories of his own life. The High Germans, 
more particularly, were reminded of home when from between 
the Unes of the poems there always seemed to greet them the 
Swabian land with its vine-clad hills and sunny rivers, with its 
cheerful and song-loving inhabitants. The simple strains, 
resembling those of folk-songs, involuntarily challenged the 
reader to sing them ; before long, composers rivalled one another 
in setting them to music. All the youth of the land followed 
suit. Uhland's songs were heard wherever German soldiers were 
marching, wherever students, singers, and gymnasts, assembled 
in happy festival ; they became a power of blessing in the 
freshly blossoming and vigorous folk-life of the new century. 
The younger generation, steeled in war, pressed forth from 
the imprisoned chamber air of the good old time, forth into 
freedom ; the German wanderlust demanded its rights ; old 
and half forgotten popular festivals were once again honoured. 
The new folk-songs threw a bridge across the deep chasm which 
separated the cultured from the uncultured, and led the masses, 
who read nothing, for the first time to an appreciation of the 
poetry of their own day. Even though that priceless unbroken 
unity of national civilisation which had once existed in the days 
of the Hohenstaufen remained ever unattainable to the learned 
culture of the modem world, there nevertheless ensued a 
wholesome return to nature, so that by degrees a portion at least 
of the finest German poems became dear to the whole nation 
and comprehensible to all. How fast beat the heart of the Swabian 
poet when he saw the joy of song newly awakening among his 
people ; full of confidence he issued to his comrades the 
spirited exhortation : 

" Sing who can, your song forth-giving 
In German poets' forest-ground ! 
Rejoicing all and truly living, 
When songs from every twig resound I " 

The homely man could never have too much of the noisy 
thronging of popular festivals, and he secured at times the 
highest reward of the poet when upon a journey in the Rhine- 
land he came by chance in the forest upon young people singing 
his own songs with their clear voices ; or when a senior 
student of Tiibingen was taking ceremonial departure across 
the Neckar bridge, and the parting song Es ziehet dcr Bursch in 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

die Weitc reverberated as far as the vineyard of the poet's house 
on the Oesterberg. 

It is true that his poems embraced a comparatively narrow 
circle of ideas ; he sang, as had formerly sung the knightly poet 
with the golden harp, almost exclusively of "God's love, of the 
hero's courage, of the gentleness of love, of the sweet may- 
blossom." In his tragedies, too, he preferred to extol the 
tenacious loyalty of ancient German friendship ; his plays lack 
the compelling force of dramatic passion. His patriotic poems 
do not attain to the vigorous political emotion of his favourite 
Walther von der Vogelweide ; the fine Promethean impulse to 
fathom the highest problem of existence, the whence and whither 
of mankind, rarely touched his peaceful imagination. For this 
reason, Goethe would hear nothing of the roses and the wall- 
flowers, the blond maidens and mournful knights, of the Swabian 
singer ; he failed to recognise that in the writing of songs and 
ballads no one rivalled him so nearly as did Uhland, and he 
expressed the acrimonious view that in all this there was nothing 
which went to the fashioning of human destiny. The Germans, 
however, had long before tacitly conspired to follow the old 
master's own precepts, saying to themselves, if I love you that 
is my own affair. The faithful Swabian knew how impossible 
it is to convince a master of his error. His own love was 
unaffected by the old man's injustice. He was never weary of 
sending Goethe his poet's greeting, and of telling the nation 
how, long ago, in the golden springtime this king's son had 
awakened the sleeping princess of German poesy, and how the 
sculptured foliage of Strasburg cathedral once rustled when the 
young poet mounted the winding stair of the tower — " the poet 
who now for half a century has been singing the world of the 

Although after the age of thirty the taciturn man pubUshed 
few and isolated poems, and was content as a talented investi- 
gator and collector to participate in the great work of the 
(rediscovery of our primaeval age, his reputation as a poet never- 
theless continued to increase from year to year. The songs of 
his youth could never grow old. Highly cultured and yet 
inconspicuous ; an enthusiast for the ancient glories of the 
empire and of the Austrian imperial race, and yet a democrat, 
to whom " the princes' counsellors and court chamberlains 
decorated with dull stars upon their cold bosoms " always 
remained objects of suspicion ; in the poUtical struggle fearless 



History of Germany 

and loyal, as the motto on the national coat-of-arms demands, 
to the point of defiant obstinacy — he seemed to the Swabians 
the typical representative of his country, the best of the tribal 
fellowship. They revered him, declaring : " Every word which 
Uhland has spoken has been justified by the event." 

A crowd of young poets followed in the master's footsteps, 
and soon came to speak of itself as the Swabian school of poets. 
Here for the first time in the history of modem German poetry 
was the attempt ventured at the foundation of a separate terri- 
torial culture, taking, however, the form of a perfectly harmless 
particularism. Nothing was further from the mind of these 
poets than the intention to cut themselves adrift from the 
common work of the nation ; they merely felt cordially happy 
and proud because they belonged to this cheerful land of wine 
and song, to this stock which had once borne the war-standard 
of the Holy Empire, and which was more intimately associated 
than any other with the great memories of our middle age. 
Amiable serenity and natural freshness were characteristic of 
the countless ballads and songs of these poets, they remained 
German and chaste, and continued to preserve the pure forms 
of lyrical poetry even at a later date when the new cosmopolitan 
revolutionary spirit, disturbing nobility of artistic form and 
innocence of mind, invaded German poetry. Yet the marvellous 
poetical mood of the songs of Uhland was as inimitable as was 
the roguish humour which enabled him to depict so happily the 
valiant spirit of the German heroic age. Many of the Swabian 
ballad-singers gradually lapsed into the rhymed prose of the 
meistersingers ; their dull amiability could offer no ideas to the 
new century. 

By far the most distinguished spirit in this circle was 
Justinus Kemer, a man of thoroughly poetic nature, full of droll 
humour and profound sensibility. His hospitable home among 
the vineyards close by the ancient castle of Weibertreu near 
Weinsberg, celebrated in song and story, remained for years 
the meeting place of all fine intelligences from the highlands. 
Whoever had been cordially received there by the poet and his 
wife " Rickele," whoever had heard him over his Ncckar wines 
telling extravagant anecdotes, or had listened to him reciting 
his brilliant and intensely felt songs, was hardly surprised to 
learn that even this thoroughly Protestant and modern man 
did not remain untouched by the mystical tendency of romanti- 
cism. Just as Brentano revered the wonder-worker Katherina 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

Emmerich, so Kerner honoured the prophetess of Prevorst, a sick 
peasant woman of the neighbourhood, beUeving that through 
her instnimentaUty he could overhear the harmonies of two 
worlds. That which drove him into these obscure regions was 
not the anxiety of conscience of an enchained and unstable soul, 
but the poetical enthusiasm of a childlike temperament which 
could find no peace in the dry rationalism of the Enlightenment. 
Meanwhile the nation first began fully to understand what 
it possessed in its greatest poet. Ever more powerfully and 
commandingly did the figure of Goethe rise before their eyes, as 
the excitement of the war time passed away, and as the three 
first parts of Dichtung und Wahrheit, which were published 
during the years of 1811 to 1814, gradually made their way 
through wider circles. Among the autobiographies of notable 
men, this book occupies as isolated a position as does Faust in 
the realm of poetry. Since St. Augustine's Confessions, no auto- 
biographical work had described so profoundly, so truthfully, and 
so powerfully the most beautiful secret of human life, the growth 
of genius. To the severe saint, the forms of the life of this 
world seemed to disappear completely in face of the crushing 
thought of the sinfulness of all creatures, and in face of the 
yearning after the living God ; but through Dichtung und 
Wahrheit there breathes the spirit of a poet who finds joy in this 
world, who endeavours to contemplate eternal love in the 
abundant life of creation, and who from the highest flights of 
thought returns ever to the simple faith of the artist : " What 
can be the use of all this array of suns and planets and moons, 
of stars and milky ways, of comets and nebulae, of worlds that 
have been and worlds that are yet to be, if in the end a happy 
man is not instinctively to rejoice in its existence ? " As 
honestly as had Rousseau, Goethe recognised the faults and 
errors of his youth ; but his secure sense of style preserved him 
from Rousseau's forced and artificial outspokenness which led 
the Genevese author into shamelessness. Goethe did not, like 
Rousseau, lay bare even those half-unconscious and contradictory 
surgings of sentiment which are endurable only because they 
are fugitive, and which when subjected to detailed analysis 
appear grotesque, but gave merely the important essentials of 
his life, relating how he had become a poet. 

Whilst of Rousseau's Confessions there remains in the end 
nothing more than the painful recognition of the sinfulness of 
man, who oscillates unsupported between his archetype and his 


History of Germany 

caricature, between God and beast, the readers of Dichtung und 
Wahrheit attain to the happy feeling that the German writer 
has in a twofold sense succeeded in doing what Milton once 
demanded of the poet, namely, in transfiguring his own life to 
make it a true work of art. Just as he had inherited talent from 
his mother and character from his father, and now little by 
httle, but with unequalled steadfastness, diffused his energies 
throughout the entire domain of human contemplation, 
imagination, and cognition, so at each stage of his development, 
did his spirit appear healthy, exemplary, accordant with 
nature, and therewith extraordinarily simple in all its wonderful 
transformations. The talented Fanny Mendelssohn expressed 
the feeling of all readers when she prophesied : " God will not 
summon this man home prematurely ; he must remain on earth 
until he has attained an advanced age, and must show his people 
what Uving means." Reverence for Goethe was a bond of unity 
between the best men of this distracted nation ; the higher the 
culture of any German, the more profoundly did he venerate the 
poet. The tone of the book manifested the feeling which 
Goethe had once expressed in youth : that he would not have 
been astonished if people had placed a crown upon his head. 
Yet he stood far too high to be tainted by those involuntary 
tendencies to self-conceit which are found in almost all confessions. 
The mighty self-consciousness which found expression in these 
memoirs was the serene repose of a spirit perfectly at one with 
itself, the happy frankness of a i>oet who all his life had been 
engaged in writing nothing but confessions, and who had long 
been accustomed to answer censorious and envious spirits by 
saying : "I did not make myself." 

Whenever he had intervened in German life he had 
furnished the highest. Now, too, the figures which he conjured 
out of memory were illuminated by a spiritual warmth which 
can be paralleled only by that of the finest of his own free 
imaginary figures. From the parsonage of Sesenheim there 
shone a ray of love penetrating the youthful dreams of every 
German heart, and whoever recalled the happy days of his own 
childhood, instantly pictured the rambling old house in the 
Hirschgrabcn, the fountain in the courtyard, saw and looked 
into the deep laughing eyes of Goethe's joyous mother. The 
poet said in the words of his own old man : " We wander 
among the shades in the form in which we have left earth." To 
him another destiny was allotted, for so enthralling was the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

charm of this book that even to-day when Goethe is named 
almost everyone thinks first of the kingly youth ; his years of 
manhood, which he did not himself describe for us, are in the 
shade when contrasted with the sunshine of these early days of 
his history. 

Just as Rousseau intertwined contemporary history with the 
narrative of his life, so Goethe, with incomparably greater 
profundity and thoroughness, gave a comprehensive historical 
picture of the spiritual life of the Frederician age. Flaming up 
once more in youthful fire, the old man described the springtime 
of German art, filled with joyful hopes, described how everything 
was germinating and pressing upward, how the fresh aroma of 
the soil filled the atmosphere as it arose from the freshly tilled 
fields, how one tree stood bare beside another which had already 
burst forth into leaf. How often had Niebuhr and other 
contemporaries of Goethe refused to admit that the p>oet 
possessed the historic sense, taking this view because he was 
so fond of immersing himself in nature. Now, however, he 
performed the two highest tasks of the historian, the artistic and 
the scientific, showing by his work that the two are one. So 
vividly did he recall the past for his readers that they all felt 
as if they were themselves living among the events described, 
and yet at the same time he enabled them to understand what 
had happened, to recognise the necessary sequence of events. 
The work was composed in the days of the Napoleonic world- 
dominion, at a time when the writer seemed to despair of the 
political re-establishment of the fatherland ; and yet from every 
sentence there spoke the confident and hopeful mood of the 
Frederician epoch. Not a word showed that after the recent 
defeats the poet had abandoned faith in Germany's great future. 
Even now, when all the world gave up the Prussian state for 
'lost, and when even the Teutonising enthusiasts turned away 
[with indifference from the image of Frederick, Goethe showed for 
the first time in stirring words how intimately the new art was 
1 associated with the heroic glories of Prussia : in Germany there 
pad never been a lack of talented men, but a national strength, 
[a veritable content, was first given to our imaginative Ufe by 
[the deeds of Frederick. Thus the poet had never inwardly 
2come unfaithful to his nation. He said once in those weary days 
that there now remained only one sacred duty, to maintain 
spiritual mastery, and amid the general ruin to preserve the 
palladium of our literature ! 


History of Germany 

It was a terrible misfortune that Goethe had absolutely no 
confidence in the awakening political life of the nation. Pain- 
fully enough did he experience the truth of his own saying, that 
the poet is by nature unpartisan, and therefore in times of 
poUtical passion can hardly escape a tragical fate. At times, 
indeed, he had intimations of a happier future. When the 
grande armee passed through on the way to Russia, and those who 
were disheartened expressed the opinion that now the world- 
empire had gained completion, he rejoined, " Wait a while, and 
see how many of them will return ! " Yet when there did 
indeed return no more than pitiable remnants of the innumerable 
host, and when the Prussian nation arose Uke one man, the 
poet shuddered at the rough enthusiasms of the " undis- 
ciplined volunteers." He never forgot how little the Germans 
had in former days understood the lofty patriotic sentiments of 
Hermann und Dorothea, and he did not believe that his fellow- 
countrymen possessed the enduring energy of political will. 
From the first he had exchanged ideas with the ancient 
civilisation of the west, and now contemplated with sinister 
forebodings the passage of the peoples of the east across the 
peaceful land of Central Germany, the coming of the " Cossacks, 
Croats, Cassubians, and Samlanders, brown and other hussars." 
He strictly forbade his son to join the army of the allies, and 
had then to suffer the experience of seeing the passionate youth, 
ashamed and desperate, undergo a sudden change of sentiments 
which led him to display in his father's house an idolatrous 
veneration for Napoleon. 

It was the news of peace which first delivered the poet from 
his mood of dull depression. He breathed more freely, and 
wrote for the peace festival Das Epimenides Erwachen, in order, 
after his manner, to unburden himself by a poetical confession. 
The masses, who on such an occasion had rightly expected a 
popular and generally comprehensible work, did not know what 
to make of this allegorical figure ; yet anyone who was capable 
of unriddling the meaning of the fable was profoundly 
moved to hear how the wise dreamer, " who had slept through 
this night of horror," greeted the victorious fighters, and expressed 
shame for his long slumber, " for by the sufferings you have 
endured you have become greater than I." This was an 
admission which put criticism to shame : but it was by no 
means an abasement, for at the same time Epimenides thanked 
the gods who during these stormy years had preserved for him 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

the purity of his feehngs. Henceforward Goethe looked back 
upon the War of Liberation with a freer and serener glance, and 
for the statue which the estates of Mecklenburg erected to 
Blucher in Rostock he wrote the verses : 

" In tarrying and in war. 
In defeat and in victory. 
Self-contained and great. 
He delivered us 
From our foes ! " 

As soon as arms had been laid down he went ' ' to the Rhine's 
long lines of hills and favoured plains." Two happy summers, 
that of 1814 and that of 1815, were spent by him in the liberated 
Rhineland whose sunny life made it seem more homelike to him 
than any other region of Gertnany. His heart leapt when he saw 
everywhere reawakening the old Rhenish cheerfulness of spirit, 
and the old friendly intercourse between the two banks, and when 
upon the Rochusberg at Bingen, where the French outposts had 
so long kept watch, he saw the p)eople assembhng once more 
in a cheerful church-festival. In the pages he penned in 
commemoration of these happy days, the old man seemed to 
regain the joie de vivre which had formerly characterised him as 
a Strasburg student. Reminiscences of his Strasburg studies were 
regained, too, in friendly intercourse with Bertram and the 
brothers Boisseree. He delighted in visiting the cathedral of 
Cologne, went to see all the ancient buildings on the Main and 
the Rhine, and spent a long time in Heidelberg. Here was 
now to be seen the collection of ancient German paintings which 
had been made by the brothers Boisseree, with the altar-piece of 
St. Bartholomew and the great St. Christopher — this was a shrine 

>f pilgrimage for all youthful Teutons and the cradle of our new 
'artistic research. The figures drawn by Diirer, " their vigorous 
^life and virility, their inner energy and steadfastness," had 

)owerfully attracted the poet in youth ; what pleasure it now 
'gave him to be able to admire in the works of the old Dutch 
painters and of those of the school of Cologne, the industry, the 
rich significance, and the simplicity of our German forefathers. 
" How stupid we are," he exclaimed ; "we actually imagine 
that our grandmothers were not beautiful like ourselves ! " He 
made a point, too, of his admiration for the Nibelungenlied, in 
opposition to Kotzebue and the other dullards who cracked 
jokes about the heroic greatness of Teutonic antiquity. To his 


History of Germany 

three friends in Cologne, Bertram and the two Boisserees, " who 
turned back courageously to the past," he sent his portrait with 
friendly verses. The Christo-Germanic enthusiasts exulted, for 
now the mountain had come down into the valley, now the old 
pagan king had paid homage to the cathedral of Cologne ; they 
already regarded the poet as one of themselves, and hoped for 
the speedy appearance of a Christian Iphigenia. 

How Uttle did they know the many-sided spirit of the man 
who at this very moment was saying with quiet self-confidence : 

" Who knows not how for years three thousand 
To himself account to give, 
May remain in darkness unenlightened. 
May from day to day still live ! " 

When Goethe frankly recognised the sound nucleus of German 
romanticism, it was far from his intention in advanced age to 
return to the circle of ideas of his Goetz von Berlichingen. He 
remained the classicist, the man who had translated Benvenuto 
Cellini, and who in his work on Winckelmann had announced the 
evangel of the German renaissance. Diirer was so dear to him 
precisely because this brilliant spirit resembled himself in the 
combination of Teutonic wealth of ideas with southern beauty 
of form. The experienced man, who had often humbly described 
himself as " a man of narrow views," knew only too well how 
readily the claims of life mislead into an involuntary one- 
sidedness, and saw therefore with disapproval how the conscious 
and deUberate one-sidedness of the Teutonist movement 
threatened to atrophy in the Germans their best good, their free 
outlook on the world, their frank receptivity. When the 
younger generation actually undertook to spoil his beloved language 
by an arrogant process |of purification, to rob it of fertilising 
intercourse with^foreign civilisation, he broke forth into titanic 
wrath. The " discontented, opinionated, ii,and rough-shod " 
methods of the new generation repelled him — these clumsy 
unkempt characteristics, this strangely composed and shapeless 
amalgam of natural Teutonic roughness and artificial Jacobin 
insolence. It was especially in the young painters who had 
established their studio in the monastery on the Quirinal, that 
Goethe speedily noted that inadequacy which is ever characteristic 
of fanaticism. The fruitful early years of mediaeval^enthusiasm 
were over. Now the watchword was "|, piety and genius ! " 
Diligence was despised, and many of the works of the Nazarene 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

school seemed as bald and empty as were the monastery cells of 
San Isidoro. This tendency was strongly opposed by the poet. 
He did not even grant a word of acknowledgment for the 
illustrations to Faust by Peter von Cornelius, for he felt that the 
great painter had understood but one side of his poem, and had 
hardly noticed the classic ideas which were subsequently to be 
more fully developed in the second part of the work. 

Above all, the free spirit of the old classicist was repelled by 
what he termed " the baby's pap," by the artificial neo-Catholic 
characteristics of romanticism in its decay. A momentous 
influence upon the whole later course of German civilisation down 
to our own day was exercised by the fact that Goethe never came 
into contact with a free and spiritual form of the positive Christian 
faith. In his youth he had associated for a time with the fine 
spirits of the pietist movement, but their narrow outlook was one 
which could not enthral the man of genius. In old age 
he never came into close association with the adherents of that 
profound, broad-minded, and highly cultured Christianity which 
had gradually ripened during the terrible years of suffering 
and of battle. Had he done so, it would hardly have escaped 
his keen insight that such men as Stein and Amdt derived 
their imperturbable hopefulness, their moral superiority, when 
compared with Hardenberg or Gentz, chiefly from the energy of 
living faith. Thus it came to pass that the last and greatest 
representative of our classic age noticed little of the reawakening 
religious life of the nation, and for several decades a contempt 
for religion was in the circles of highest culture regarded as 
an almost essential index of the liberal mind. The lath-like 
figures of the painters of the Nazarene school, with their strained 
simplicity, and the now sugary and now extravagant utterances 
of the romanticist apostates, necessarily aroused Goethe's anger ; 
and when he saw the elderly Frau von Kriidener plajdng the 
part of the illuminate, of the God-inspired prophetess, his 
Protestant blood boiled over. The falsification of science by 
religious sentiments and mystical leanings always remained an 
offence to him, and he hailed with dehght Gottfried Hermann's 
" critical, hellenistic, and patriotic " campaigns against Creuzer's 
symbolism. He felt strongly that all our German characteristics 
would perish should we ever completely abandon our cosmo- 
politan sense ; he was never weary of speaking of the necessity 
for a world-literature, never weary of commending all that was 
genuine and good in the works of the neighbour nations ; and 

273 T 


History of Germany 

he even found words of approval when Uvaroff, the talented 
Russian, proposed that every science should be represented only 
in a congenial tongue, and archaeology therefore in German alone. 

The new constitutional doctrines met with Goethe's approval 
just as Uttle as did exaggerated Teutonism. In the simple and 
genial relationships of life he ever preserved a touching kindness 
and consideration for the common man, and had a profound 
veneration for the strong and secure instincts of popular senti- 
ment. He often repeated that those whom we speak of as 
the lower classes are unquestionably the highest classes to God. 
While actually engaged in writing his Iphigenia, his kindly heart 
was continually disturbed by the thought of the hungry hosiery 
workers of Apolda. But in the state, in art, and in science, he 
displayed the aristocratic disposition characteristic of every 
notable intelligence, and vigorously defended the natural 
privileges of culture. In the popular scenes of his Egmont he had 
long before plainly expressed his views regarding the political 
capacity of the masses. " It brings disorder if we listen to the 
crowd," such was his answer when the spokesmen of liberalism 
confidently declared that the infallible wisdom of the people 
would know how to heal all the troubles of German political life. 
The un-German characteristics of the liberal journaUsts, their 
dependence on the doctrines of the French, seemed contemptible 
to his German sentiments ; their rationalist lucidity reminded him 
of Christoph Friedrich Nicolai, and at the same time filled him 
with concern, for he lived in the belief that a culture based 
upon pure reason must lead to anarchy, since reason possesses 
no authority. Soon, too, he observed with disgust how the young 
liberals became infected with the same intolerant spirit as had 
formerly been exhibited by the heretic hunters of the Berlinese 
Enlightenment, and how they despised all who held other opinions, 
regarding them as serfs of princes or of priests. In opposition to 
these slaves of faction, he maintained that there existed but one 
true liberalism, that of the sentiments, of the living emotion. 

The growth of journalism filled him with unconquerable 
disgust. He saw how supcrficialising and stifling was the influence 
exercised upon general culture by this itch for the news of the 
day, this unwholesome mingling of idle gossip with political 
information, how much effrontery and futility would flourish 
luxuriantly beneath the irresponsible anonymity of all those who 
sat here in judgment over men and things. " A profound scorn 
for public opinion " seemed to liim the only outcome of the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

highly prized freedom of the press. Shrugging his shoulders he 
turned his back upon the idols of the day : " Should one who 
lives in world history concern himself about the passing 
moment ? " How solitary, too, had the old man become. 
Herder and Wieland had passed away, and an ignoble humiliation 
had disturbed the fine relationship between him and his friend the 
grand duke. The poet could not endure that a trained dog should 
show off his tricks " where the crowned darling of the Muses had 
poured forth the consecrated fire of the inner world." The 
grand duke, however, held fast to his whim ; Goethe had to give 
way before Aubry's dog, and withdrew from the direction of the 
Weimar theatre. 

Yet nothing disturbed the free serenity of his nature. With 
youthful zeal, in his new periodical Kunst und Altertum, he 
defended the classical ideals as he had formerly defended them 
in the Propylden. In this campaign against what he termed 
" the new cant of non-art " {die neue frommelnde Unkunst) he 
was supported by many of his artist friends at Weimar. It is 
true that the poet stood on the dividing line between two epochs, 
and the proud and confident tone of his polemic concealed at 
times a sense of insecurity. Just as formerly Winckelmann 
had simultaneously exhibited an enthusiasm for the classical 
sculptures in the Villa Albani and for the frosty elegance of a 
Raphael Mengs, so also Goethe did not break entirely with his 
old comrade Tischbein, and adorned a stiff painting by his friend, 
which displayed little or no natural truth, with conmiendatory 
verses of his own ! Yet he remained in touch with all the freely 
aspiring talents of German art, and greeted with warm praise the 
first bold efforts of Christian Ranch. 

More effective than this critical activity was the appearance 
of Die Italienische Reise in 1817. For a long time these memorials 
of his ItaUan journey had been circulated by the poet among his 
friends ; now, collected and revised, they were pubUshed with 
the deliberate intention of throwing light upon Rome, upon the 
works of classical antiquity, and upon those of the Renaissance. 
The Germans were to be brought to share the feeUng, the uncon- 
querable yearnings, which had once driven him to the Eternal 
City, were to learn that he could not tarry even in Florence, how 
-in Assisi he had eyes only for the slender columns of the temple 
iBr ^ Minerva, and could not vouchsafe a glance at the " gloomy 
dome" of St. Francis, the consecrated spot where Giotto's art 
had once awakened, and how finally beneath the Porta del 


History of Germany 

Popolo he at length felt secure of Rome. Then readers had 
to follow him through all those rich days, the most beautiful and 
most fertile of his life : when in the morning the sun rose over 
the jagged summits of the Sabine hills, and the poet walked 
alone along the Tiber to the springs of the Campagna ; when 
amid the vestiges of the Forum, as a partner in the councils 
of destiny, he learned to know history from within outwards ; 
when in cool and solitary halls he was inspired with the joys of 
artistic creation, when his imagination was impressed with the 
figures of Iphigenia, Egmont, Tasso, and Wilhelm Meister ; when 
at length, beneath the orange trees on the sunny strand of 
Taormina, he seemed to see vividly wandering before him the 
figures of Nausicaa and the much enduring Odysseus. Again 
and again recurs a humble admission from the man who had long 
before written Goetz and Werther that here he was reborn, 
that here for the first time he attained to the clarity of vision 
and the repose of the artist, that here he first learned to 
work on the grand scale. The ancient Teutonic yearning for the 
south, the gratitude of the men of the north to the beautiful 
homeland of all civilisation, had never found warmer expression. 
The impression was deep and enduring. The poet had the joy of 
knowing that several of the most talented among the younger artists 
devoted themselves soon afterwards to the study of the antique. 
It was not the Nazarenes alone, however, who resented the 
pagan book ; Niebuhr himself and many other men of a worldly 
and liberal intelligence were estranged by it. This purely 
aesthetic view of the world-order, one which on principle turned 
away from political life, expressed the sentiments of the 
eighties. Notwithstanding the recent powerful revival of Uterary 
tendencies, such an outlook could no longer suffice for the 
generation which had fought at Leipzig and Belle Alliance. 

It was only a few years before that Goethe had written 
some of his most youthful convivial lays, such as the merry 
student song Ergo hihamus. Gradually, however, as he approached 
the seventies, there became active in him the sentiments of 
age, mild contemplativeness, calm resignation, an inclination 
to the didactic, the symbolic, and the mystical ; and according 
to his custom he let nature have free play. It was in such a 
mood that he read Hammer's translation of Hafiz. The impulse ■ 
towards the remote which the world-voyages of romanticism 
had awakened among the Germans, seized him also ; he felt how 
the quiet and serene wisdom of the east corresponded to his age, 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

and how the natural religion of Persia harmonised with his own 
love of earth. Yet it was impossible for him to " adopt anything 
immediate " into his works ; he would not and could not, Uke 
Schiller, forcibly take possession of foreign matter in order to 
refashion it. Easily and gradually he familiarised himself with 
the forms and images of Persian poetry, until his own ideas came 
involuntarily to assume something of the aroma of the land of 
the morning. 

It was at this juncture that a friendly destiny brought him 
into contact with Marianne von Willemer, during his journey to 
his Rhenish home. It seemed as if to him alone the sad words 
were not to apply which he had written two years before. " For 
a man must know, be he who he may, a final pleasure, and a last 
day." His youth revived in those sunny autumn days when he 
wandered with the beautiful young woman through the avenues 
along the terraces of the castle of Heidelberg, and scratched the 
Arabic signature of his Suleika on the basin of the fountain : 
" Once again does Goethe feel the breath of springtime and the 
sunshine's warmth." What now filled him with happiness was 
not such an overpowering passion as he had once felt for Frau 
von Stein, but a warm and deep inclination of the heart for a 
charming woman, who through the love of the poet became 
j herself an artist. Docilely she entered into the orientaUst 
[ conceits of her friend ; in an interchange of songs with Hatem, 
Suleika wrote those melodious poems full of sweet yearning and 
yielding humility which for half a century were regarded as 
Goethe's finest work. His answers were now full of the play of 
intellect, now lighted up with passion. In glowing and mystical 
verses he sang the most delightful of all God's thoughts, the power 
of that love moving between two worlds, and bringing together 

rose who belong to one another : 

Allah need create no longer. 
We ourselves create his world ! 

Thus there gradually came into existence the poet's last 
great lyrical work, Westostliche Divan, a posy of love-songs 
and drinking songs, of sayings and observations, of old and new 
confessions, held together merely by the bond of their oriental 
form. Contentious words are not lacking, for, as the master 
himself declared : "I have been a man, and that means a 
fighter." Unsparingly he described the power of the base among 
men, and in sharp contrast with the unrestrained love of song of 


History of Germany 

the Swabian poets he foresaw that the excessive yearning for 
song would ultimately disillusionise German life : " Who drives 
the art of poetry from the world ? The poets ! " The key-note 
of the collection is, however, constituted by a quiet serenity, 
freely contemplating earthly activity : " Enough remains, 
remains still thought and love." The artistic prosody of the 
Divan, in which freedoms hitherto unprecedented were allowed, 
served as an example for the more thoughtful among the lyrical 
writers of the succeeding generation. Here and there, it is true, 
there was lacking that charm of direct inspiration which gave all 
the youthful works of Goethe their compelling force ; certain 
stiff and affected turns of phrase appeared elaborately thought 
out rather than truthfully felt, and many artificial arabesques 
seemed to be introduced merely to increase the exotic stimulus 
of the general picture. Nevertheless in the Divan, in Commentar 
iiber die Orphischen Urworten, and in the countless sayings of his 
last years, Goethe unlocked a treasure-house of wisdom which 
yielded the apt word for almost every vital problem of the 
emotional life and of culture, a treasure-house which only the 
present generation has learned to appreciate. Many of the 
poems of his old age recalled the cryptic runes of Teutonic 
antiquity over which the heroes might reflect and dream 
throughout life. At times he ventured into the ultimate 
mysterious profound of existence, up to the very limits of the 
expressible, where the articulate word becomes dumb and music 
takes its place — as for instance in that marvellous song which 
ever resounds softly through the soul when a ray of heavenly 
happiness falls into our poor life : 

" Until thou too canst pass this test, 
' Dying, live again : ' 
Art thou but a gloomy guest 
On this earth of pain." 

Thus he lived on in solitary greatness, unceasingly contem- 
plating, collecting, investigating, writing, advancing through the 
finite in all directions in order to plumb the infinite, rejoicing in 
every bright day of the springtime and in every gift of the fruitful 
autumn, and rejoicing no less in every fresh work of art and in 
every new discovery in the wide domain of human knowledge. 
Schiller's more delicate frame had been prematurely worn out 
in the hard service of the Kantian conception of duty ; to the 
fortunate and thoroughly healthy nature of Goethe, his titanic 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

and many-sided activities seemed merely the natural and easy 
unfolding of inborn energies. Those who were not in contact 
with him, hardly suspected how earnestly he had taken to heart 
his own severe words : " He only can work who always 
works ; soon comes the night wherein no one can work ! " Still 
less did they imagine what a firm faith in God sustained the 
notorious pagan throughout his old age, how carefully he 
guarded himself against forestalling Providence, and how in 
every chance occurrence of the day he recognised the immediate 
intervention of God — for thus only to the artist was the divine 
governance of the world conceivable. And since he himself 
continued to grow day by day, as if this life were never to come 
to an end, youth always remained especially dear to him. Even 
though the arrogant roughness of the younger generation was at 
times an offence to him, in the end he could not be angry when 
he looked into the ardent eyes of the inspired hotheads; and 
he expressed the kindly sentiment that it would be foolish to 
demand of them, " Come, be an old man with me." To young 
poets he knew how to hand on the counsel which he had himself 
received from nature ; they should strive in the first place to 
become men rich alike in heart and in head, and should keep their 
minds open to every breath of the times. " The content of 
poetry is the content of one's own Ufe ; we must advance 
continually with advancing years, and must examine ourselves from 
time to time to make sure that we are really aUve ! " 

Certain zealous renegades, such as Friedrich Schlegel, ven- 
tured to speak of the overthrown old god, but men of nobler 
nature knew that to attack this man was to abuse the nation 
itself. When Baron von Stein complained of Goethe's holding 
^back in the Napoleonic days, he added modestly, " But after all 
the man is too great to find fault with." Nowhere had the poet 
warmer admirers than among intelUgent circles in Berlin. Here 
the veneration of Goethe became a cult ; the ever-enthusiastic 
piigh-priestess Rahel Vamhagen continually announced in oracular 
speeches the fame of the divine poet. The old man regarded 
from a distance, and with equanimity, the clouds of incense which 
irose before his altar on the Spree, and from time to time, in his 
formal, privy councillor's style vouchsafed a civil answer. But 
le would not permit these worshippers to draw nearer to his 
^person ; he felt that they were making a pretentious doctrine of 
that which nature had granted to him in the cradle. In the bosom 
of the elvish Uttle Rahel there beat a grateful, pious, and kindly 


History of Germany 

heart ; amid the artificial ecstasy of this dilettantist adept and 
denii-artist there was still preserved a woman's secure sense of 
what is great and strong ; at one time, and for many years, 
Fichte had been her idol as well as Goethe. But side by side 
with such amiable characteristics she exhibited a half 
unconscious and for that very reason immeasurable vanity, so 
that her admiration for the greatest of German poets was in 
effect no more than a source of egoistic personal gratification ; 
she consoled herself for her secret sense of barrenness with 
the subhme thought that the great spirit of Goethe, reaching out 
towards the infinite, had scorned to confine its energies within the 
domain of philology ! " Why should I not be natural," she asked 
naively, " I could gain nothing better or more manifold by 
affectation ? " Yet how little real content was there in all the 
cultured conversation of this aesthetic tea-drinking circle. Much 
which was there spoken of as talent depended in essentials upon 
nothing more than the misuse of the German speech, upon the 
preposterous apposition of unsuitable words. When Rahel spoke 
of a nobly conceived and ardently executed piece of music as 
" ein gebildeter Sturm wind," the circle of priests of the higher 
culture shouted with delight, and her husband inscribed the 
foolish phrase in his diary in his most beautiful script. But the old 
hero in Weimar knew the great gulf that is fixed between 
knowing and doing. Where among his admirers he encountered 
creative faculty, he was not slow to thaw. How fatherly was 
his attitude towards the wonder-child Felix Mendelssohn- 
Bartholdy ; he rejoiced with the happy parents over the 
magnificent combination of refined culture and genuine talent. 

Whilst poetry had entered the season of autumn, for the fine 
arts there now came the time of blossoming. As long as the 
enthusiasm of the years of war lasted, Gothic art was generally 
esteemed the only veritable German art. Our youth seemed to 
have turned away for ever from classical ideals, and Schenkendorf 
exclaimed commandingly : " No more on any German wall 
must pagan images be seen ! " Many of the volunteers from the 
east first learned upon the march to the Rhine to know the wealth 
of form characteristic of our earUer history. It seemed to them 
that these ancient cathedrals were the only valid examples for the 
art of the fatherland, and they hardly noticed that in the 
churches of detested France they everywhere encountered the 
same " Old German " style. When they gazed up at tlic old crane 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

upon the unfinished spire of the cathedral of Cologne, they 
thought with the knightly singer, " that the conclusion of the 
work had been postponed until the coming of the right masters ! " 
The crown prince was utterly overcome at the sight of the majestic 
pile that was falling into decay ; at his instigation Schinkel was 
sent to Cologne, and declared that to preserve such a building 
meant to complete it. 

King Frederick William was also touched by this mood of the 
time when, after the first peace of Paris, he determined to com- 
memorate the German victories by the construction of a 
magnificent Old German cathedral in Berlin. Soon afterwards, 
in Old Prussia, the demand was heard on all sides that the 
beautiful grand master's castle of Marienburg which had been so 
shamefully mutilated by the rough hands of the Poles and by the 
prosaic coldness of the Frederician officials, should be restored 
in its antique glories as a monument of victory for the ancient 
Ordensland which prided itself on having aroused the other 
Germans to the holy war. Schon, the zealous representative of 
Old Prussian local pride, was the leader in this undertaking ; it 
was his hope that this finest of the secular buildings of our 
middle ages could be made a Prussian Westminster, and that 
every member of the nation should take his share in the work. 
The king accepted the idea of restoration ; the thin partition 
walls which a Philistine generation had erected across the 
gigantic halls were removed ; above the slender pillars of the 
refectory there could be once more seen rising Hghtly and freely 
the palm-Hke tracery of the ancient Gothic arches. The 
decoration of the castle was left to the nation. No money was 
accepted ; whoever wished to help must himself co-operate in the 
artistic treatment of a portion of the building. The nobihty, 
the towns, and the corporations of the impoverished province, 
rivalled one another in gifts, and patriots from all the territories 
of the state participated. Soon the stained glass windows 
displayed pictures from Prussia's older and more recent history, 
for during these years was revived the art of glass-staining which, 
[With so many other acquirements of civilisation, had perished 
amid the storms of the Thirty Years' War. There, beneath the 
black and white banner, were figured the knight of the Teutonic 
order and the soldier of the War of Liberation ; the schools of 
the frontier-land presented a window showing David's sword and 
harp and bearing the inscription, " He who is no warrior can be 
no shepherd." All the most intimate secrets of the romantic 


History of Germany 

generation came to light in these activities ; how happy did the 
Germans feel that they were once more entitled to look the 
heroes of their great past in the face. It was amid universal 
rejoicing that the young crown prince held high festival in the 
great halls of the old fortress, and, after his enthusiastic manner, 
proposed the toast : " May all that is great and worthy rise up 
Uke this building ! " 

Nevertheless the Gothic tendency in art was just as little 
able to gain the upper hand as were the Swabian poets in the field 
of poetry. The ideas of Winckelmann and Goethe still held sway, 
and nowhere more than in Berlin. Here the best works of the 
German late renaissance, the palace, the arsenal, and the 
Elector's monument by Schliiter, the memorials of a classically 
cultured and yet national art, were more comprehensible to 
modem sentiment than were the buildings of the middle ages. At 
this central point of a great but recent history, the return to 
the architectural forms of the fourteenth century necessarily 
appeared arbitrary and artificial. Now, too, for the first time did 
people begin to become familiar with the genuine works of the 
Hellenes, Winckelmann had formerly learned to know almost 
exclusively the Roman imitations of Greek art, and had failed 
to observe what a wide course had been run in antiquity from 
the Dorian age and the golden days of Pericles down to the 
second blossoming of the epoch of Hadrian. Since the opening 
of the new century, the treasures of ancient Greece had been 
unearthed ; the Elgin marbles found their way to London in 1816, 
and in the same year the ^Eginetan sculptures were transferred 
to Munich. Admiration grew concurrently with the understanding 
for the antique. At this time too was working in Rome that 
late-bom Hellene who lived as did no other modern in the world 
of classical forms, and who seemed to have been transferred into 
this new century by the enigmatical sport of destiny. Yet 
through Thorwaldsen's mighty spirit ran a strong Teutonic vein. 
To the hearts of the Germans his art made a direct appeal; 
they counted the Icelander as half their own ; he had been 
greatly influenced by the German, Asmus Carstens, the bold 
rebel against academic art, and from him had learned what was 
truly living and of permanent value in the works of classical 

While the Old German and the classical tendencies were 
thus still engaged in an undecided struggle, a change weighty 
with consequence occurred in Berlin. During the difficult 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

years in which the Prussian state was on the verge of bank- 
ruptcy, the construction of monumental works of art was 
obviously impossible. There was only one artistic plan which 
the king could not relinquish. He desired to erect a worthy 
monument to his wife, and his sound natural feeling led him 
here also in the right path, although he was modestly accus- 
tomed to speak of himself as no more than a layman in 
matters of art. He longed for an appropriate memorial of his 
beloved ; and since he felt obscurely that Gothic, which in 
any case to his sober sense seemed unduly fantastical, did not 
do full justice to the majesty of the human form, he would 
not hear of an Old German mortuary chapel. Schinkel, who 
during the years of war was still completely absorbed by 
Teutonising views, vainly assured him that the architecture of 
paganism was cold, and that the hard religion of destiny of 
the ancients could not possibly represent the idea of death 
with the loving and consoling serenity of Christianity. Frederick 
William had a small Doric temple built amid the sombre pines 
of the Charlottenburg park, to constitute a simple and serious 
setting for the queen's tomb. Christian Ranch was entrusted 
with the execution of the actual monument, Ranch who had 
once been in the queen's service, had been introduced by her 
to art, and who undertook the work with the enthusiasm of 
artistic inspiration and of personal regard. Thousands assembled 
when this mausoleum was opened in the spring of 1815, most 
of them at first coming only to gaze once more upon the 
countenance of the beloved princess. But when they saw the 
recumbent figure, the charming form in its peaceful grandeur, 
so life-like that it almost seemed to breathe, beautiful as a woman 
of ancient Greece, but pious and peaceful as a Christian, every 
vein in the hands and every fold of the white marble vesture 
treated with the highest technical certainty and accuracy, even 
these northerners, to whom of all the arts sculpture seems most 
remote, were inspired by a breath from the spirit of the antique. 
Year by year pilgrims continued to flock to this shrine. 
Everyone felt that German art had taken one of its great steps 
forward. The classically trained and strictly formal reahsm of 
Ranch gained a decisive success. The enthusiasm for Gothic 
disappeared from BerUn society ; even the romanticist crown 
^ prince gradually turned towards classical ideals. 

Meanwhile the statesmen had returned from Paris, 
Hardenberg greatly influenced by the powerful impressions 


History of Germany 

received at the Louvre, while Altenstein and Eichhorn had on 
the return journey visited the Boisserees' collection at Heidel- 
berg, All frankly expressed their feeling that the artistic life 
of Berlin seemed extremely poor when compared with the wealth 
of the west, and were at one with the king in the determination 
that the state must never relapse into the banaUty of the past 
century. When Altenstein soon afterwards became chief of the 
educational system he proposed to continue the work which had 
been begun by Wilhelm Humboldt with the foundation of the 
Beriin University, and to make the Prussian capital a centre 
of German art. Frederick I, inspired with the spirit of a 
Maecenas, had always thought first of the glory of the court ; 
now, when the Prussian crown devoted itself zealously for the 
second time to the advance of the fine arts, it had at length 
become conscious of the great civilising duties of the state. It 
was now recognised that the cultivation of art was a necessary 
part of national education ; a lofty idea was held regarding the 
artist's freedom, and it was considered enough to provide worthy 
tasks for men of creative intelligence without endeavouring to 
control them in the exercise of their peculiar gifts. But the 
king's admirable sentiments in this respect by no means 
corresponded with the resources of the exhausted exchequer. 
Once again, as so often before, Prussia was forced to attempt 
great things with insufficient means, and at the right moment 
the right man was forthcoming. 

A universal genius such as German art had not known since 
the days of Diirer, at once architect, sculptor, painter, musician, 
and when he took up the pen always sure to use the noblest 
and most efficient words, Carl Friedrich Schinkel kept his gaze 
steadfastly directed towards the loftiest aims : to him a work of 
art was " an image of the moral ideals of the time." Continually 
engaged in active creation, despising sloth, he spoke of indolence 
as sinful in times of culture, and bestial in times of barbarism 
He was whole-heartedly devoted to his Brandenburg home. When 
he saw this state resplendent in the pride of victorious arms, and 
when there came a glorious end to the struggle of light against 
darkness which had so often occupied his own artist's dreams, it 
seemed to him that the time had arrived for the introduction 
into Prussian life of the charm and fulness of a ripe civilisation, 
and for the transformation of Berlin into a splendid seat of the 
muses. It was his idea that as Palladio had once stamped his 
genius upon Vicenza, so might he stamp his own upon the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

Prussian capital. In the centre of the town should be the palace, 
the university, the theatre, and the museums ; round about these, 
instead of the monotonous Hnes of lowly houses, there should be 
grouped stately mansions and charming villas, interspersed with 
fountains and amid abundant foliage ; magnificent gates in the 
town wall, and in front of the Leipziger Platz a great Gothic 
cathedral, a monument of victory of the War of Liberation. 
But whereas the fortunate Palladio was furnished with inex- 
haustible means by a race of wealthy seigneurs, and while his 
native city was placed in his hands Uke a lump of potter's clay 
to be moulded according to his will, the Prussian artist had 
all through Ufe to contend with the enforced economy of the 
monarch and his officials. " We must put a bridle on him ! " 
said the king with a smile whenever the indefatigable man came 
forward with fresh proposals. Hardly the twentieth part of his 
bold designs were carried into effect. What a struggle he had 
merely to save the dilapidated statues on the roof of the palace 
which the officials wished to clear away. Instead of the noble 
freestone which had delighted him in Italy, he was forced for 
the most part to content himself with glazed brick, and in place 
of bronze he had to use zinc castings. None the less this poor 
fraction of his scheme, together with the works of the epoch of 
Schliiter, served to imprint permanent characteristics upon the 
architecture of Berlin. 

Schinkel soon freed his mind from the Teutonist intoxication 
of the years of war. He recognised that the multiform culture 
of our day cannot be restricted to a single style of architecture, 
and was willing to employ the artistic forms of the middle 
ages when their use seemed demanded by the position and 
significance of the edifice. But for his own intimate ideals he 
found true expression in a new form of renaissance, which adhered 
ore closely to the works of classical antiquity and above all 
to those of Greece than had done the art of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, and yet always understood how to do 
justice to the sense and purpose of modem buildings. In his 
first great work, the new main guardhouse, the warlike function 
of the building was so vigorously and defiantly expressed by the 
severe, compact, Doric forms, that the beholder almost forgot the 
extremely modest proportions, and was involuntarily reminded of 
Sanmicheli's majestic fortifications. When, soon afterwards, in 
the year 1817, the theatre was burned, and the frugal officials 
insisted that the old walls of the building should be utilised in 


History of Germany 

the reconstruction, he knew once more how to make a virtue 
of necessity, and soon there arose between the two charming 
cupolas of the Gendarmenkirche, above a tall perron, a calm 
and formal Ionic temple, the stonework adorned with rich 
carving (for Schinkel's designs involved the co-operation of all 
the arts) — the entire structure a faithful image of this epoch, so 
rich in intellect, but so poor in financial resources, inspired with 
brilliant designs, but perforce in many cases narrow and inade- 
quate in execution. 

Henceforward Schinkel was firmly established in the king's 
favour, and he assumed the leadership of artistic activity in 
Prussia, although the wings of his genius were continually clipped 
by lack of means. Throughout North Germany and as far as 
Scandinavia his classical tendency prevailed. The designs for 
the Berlin cathedral had to be abandoned, since funds were 
lacking. His fine monument of victory was however erected on 
the Kreuzberg. This was conceived by SchinkeJ in those Gothic 
forms which were still regarded as characteristically national ; 
it was only in the sculptures with which Ranch and Tieck adorned 
the columns that the new classic style was given free play. 
But on all the battle-fields where the Prussian army had fought, 
upon the windmill hill at Grossbeeren as upon the high tumulus 
at Planchenoit in the plain of Brabant, everywhere the impover- 
ished state erected the same miserable Gothic columns with the 
inscription : " The fallen heroes are held in grateful memory by 
king and fatherland. They rest in peace." Schinkel knew that 
monumental art leads a hothouse existence as long as the daily 
hfe of the people remains unadorned and ugly. He contemplated 
with pain the bald, barrack style of the dwelling-houses, the 
wretched furnishing of the narrow rooms. In what a deplorable 
condition was the craftsmanship of German art, which had once 
gloriously rivalled that of the Italians ; for every great artistic 
undertaking it was necessary to summon workmen from abroad, 
stonemasons from Carrara, engravers on copper from Milan, 
bronze-founders from France. But he was proud to be the 
apostle of beauty among the northern nations, and therefore, 
when in the year 1821 the industrial institute of Berlin had been 
founded, he issued, in conjunction with the talented technician 
Beuth, Vorbilder fiir Fahrikantcn und Handworker, a collection of 
standard types for domestic furnishing, which, in numberless 
imitations, gradually found its way into every workshop and 
served to reawaken the sense of form in German handicraft, 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

even though some of the designs may to the modern artistic 
sense appear unduly poor and simple. 

Meanwhile Rauch had estabUshed his studio in the 
Lagerhaus, the old margravial castle, and there, a strict teacher, 
trained a succession of devoted pupils and skilled handicraftsmen, 
so that German art gradually learned how to dispense with 
foreign aid. Just as he himself, without preliminary scientific 
training, had first become familiar with the world of ideas through 
the work of artistic creation, so in the case of his pupils he 
looked only to their capabihties ; efficient tinsmiths, stone- 
masons, woodworkers, steady of eye and adroit of hand, 
were more welcome to him than young men of learning. 
Thus sculpture was preserved from that overculture which not 
infrequently led our poets into aberrant paths. 

Ranch advanced with a firm and steady pace in the course 
he had begun ; Teutonist dreams never led him astray. He 
felt at one with the Prussian state and its ruHng house, and it 
was his rare good fortune to be able to incorjxjrate in his 
poUtical ideals everything that was dear to him in his works of 
art. How splendid that the whole nation could once again 
unite in rejoicing over a great achievement. Whereas in former 
days it was the rulers only who had from time to time erected 
a memorial, there now awakened among the people the desire to 
honour the heroes of the nation. First of all, the Mecklenburgers 
combined, and made Gottfried Schadow execute a statue of their 
countryman Blucher, the first great work of the revived Ger- 
man art of bronze-founding. Subsequently money was raised in 
Silesia, and Rauch was commissioned to design a monument to 
the commander of the Silesian army, to be erected close by 
the Ring of Breslau where the volunteers had once assembled. 

IJhen the king also demanded monuments for his generals, first 
pf all for Scharnhorst and Biilow, dead before their time. A 
(wide field of great and fruitful tasks opened to the artist, who 
had simultaneously to contribute to the ornamentation of 
Schinkel's architectural works, and to produce statues in bronze 
d in marble, materials he knew so well how to use to the 
•est advantage. His statues of the heroes were serious, virile, 
d noble, at once true to nature and conceived in the 
and style ; even that slight tendency to stiffness characteristic 
of Rauch is not open to serious criticism, for it corresponded 
to the character of the Prussian army. In his most': power- 
ful works, the reliefs for the monuments of Scharnhorst and 


History of Germany 

Billow, Rauch attained to a heroic height which our sculp- 
ture has never since excelled, displaying with the simplest 
means and in a few majestic lineaments the whole course of the 
struggle from the days when the youths of Prussia cut their 
lances from the stems of pine trees, down to the proud and 
victorious flight of their eagle over the fortresses of the Nether- 
lands and France. Rauch became the historian of the German 
War of Liberation, just as in former days Rembrandt and Bol, 
Van der Heist and Flinck, had handed down to posterity the 
spirit and meaning of the eighty years' war of the Netherlanders. 

Now also the first steps were taken to realise the design of 
founding a great museum in the capital. The idea had been 
conceived in the first years of the reign of Frederick WiUiam, 
and had subsequently been considered more seriously when W. 
Humboldt was minister of education. The king, in order to 
spare the state treasury, bought from his private purse Giusti- 
niani's and Solly's great collections of paintings, and presented 
them to the state. He instructed the officials to conduct the 
negotiations for the purchase in strict secrecy, for the designs of 
his government to encourage the arts at first secured approval 
only from a small circle of connoisseurs, and it was feared that 
in the depressed mood of the public, which was inclined to take 
a pessimistic pleasure in depicting the condition of the state in 
the gloomiest colours, the monarch would be blamed for extrava- 
gance instead of being thanked for generosity. It had also been 
proposed to purchase the Boisser^es' collection, but this could 
not now be effected, for the rebuilding of the theatre after its 
destruction by fire monopolised all available means. But the 
best pieces of the collection were reproduced by the new art 
of lithography, recently discovered by Senefelder, and were 
widely diffused ; they constituted the first artistic adornments 
ol the impoverished German households. 

In Rome, meanwhile, the German painters had found an 
enterprising patron in Bartholdy, a relative of the gifted house 
of Mendelssohn. He placed at their disposal the walls of his 
palace in the Via Sistina, for experiments in the art of fresco, 
which had completely passed into disuse since the time of 
Raphael Mengs. Cornelius, Overbeck, Veit, and Wilhelm 
Schadow, encouraged by Niebuhr's approbation, now rivalled one 
another in the production of Ancly conceived pictures from the 
story of Joseph. Cornelius joyfully hailed fresco-painting as 
" a beacon upon the mountains announcing a new and noble 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

awakening of art," because it once more offered painters a field 
for monumental works, and because its harsh strength was 
absolutely incompatible with poverty of spirit or bungling 
execution. "Art," he exclaimed in the terrorist tone charac- 
teristic of the young Teutonisers, " art must at length cease 
to be a lazy handmaiden of luxurious grandees, must cease 
to be a trader and base fashion-monger." Like Schinkel he 
foresaw the day when art, adorning the walls of our towns 
and decorating our houses within and without, would transform 
and consecrate the whole life of the nation. With the assured 
pride of a reformer of national civilisation, he took his way 
homeward over the Alps when summoned to Munich by the 
young crown prince, Louis of Bavaria. 

The heir of the wealthy Wittelsbachs, a race ever fond of 
architectural exploits, believed himself foreordained to establish 
a brilliant court of the muses in Bavaria, which had so recently 
re-entered the intellectual life of the nation. A pure enthusiasm 
for art and for the glory of his idolised German fatherland 
inspired the talented but visionary prince. The diplomatic 
world related with much headshaking how in Rome he had 
visited the museums and the churches arm in arm with the 
' dangerous demagogue, the poet Friedrich Riickert ; how he had 
familiarly hailed the German painters in his own uncouth verses, 
and how at their artists' festivals he had noisily joined in 
acclaiming the annihilation of philistinism and the unity of 
Germany. In all his artistic plans there co-of)erated an unstable 
dynastic ambition : he hoped to outbid the Prussian starvelings 
and parvenus whom he so heartily despised, and by a grandly 
conceived system of artistic patronage to secure for the Bavarian 
house the leading position in Germany. What a contrast to 
^^he artistic activity in Berlin ! There, what was done was no 
^Bbore than the inevitable outcome of the history and the vital 
^Bleeds of a powerful state richly endowed with spiritual forces ; 
'the works created by great artists in undisturbed freedom all 
displayed the characteristic of inevitability. In Munich, they 
built simply for the sake of building, upon a soil that offered 
little in the way of great memories ; the artists summoned from 
abroad enjoyed the fruits of a royal freehandedness which 
contrasted brilliantly with Prussian thrift, but they felt them- 
selves to be in a foreign land and had long to endure the 
mistrust of the native population ; they were controlled by the 
capricious and incalculable will of a single individual, who leapt 

289 U 

History of Germany 

impatiently from scheme to scheme, and who naively regarded 
what he had bought and paid for as his own work. The 
peaceful rivalry of the two towns favoured the many-sided 
development of German art. It ultimately led to the natural 
result that the chiefly monumental arts of architecture and 
sculpture attained their greatest successes upon the historic soil 
of BerUn ; whilst painting, freer and less dependent upon the 
favour of the environment, found its home in Munich. 

The crown prince had for years been undertaking excava- 
tions in Greece, and in Italy he had purchased everything that 
could be bought of the best works of antique sculpture. Now, 
for his collection, which was the finest on this side of the Alps, 
he had a worthy temple built by Klenze just outside the gates 
of Old Munich, the Glyptotek, constructed entirely of marble, 
and exhibiting the massive beauty of southern architecture. The 
building as a whole cannot rival the brilUant individuaUty of 
Schinkel's work, but on the walls and ceilings of the magnifi- 
cent halls, Comehus for the first time displayed the whole 
wealth of his talent. Here, writing an epic in colour, he pro- 
duced the first of those great picture-cycles in which the wealth 
of his restlessly probing spirit could alone find adequate scope — 
grandly conceived images from the world of Hellenic saga. The 
mass of the Munichers mocked at the crazy building of the 
crown prince ; they did not know what to make of the pro- 
foundly conceived symboHsm of this artistry of ideas, which for 
the most part completed its work in cartoon, and almost com- 
pletely renounced the stimulus of colour. Men of more serious 
mind admired the way in which the bold idealist had so faith- 
fully reproduced the chaste loftiness of the antique, and who yet 
conveyed in his pictures a power of passion inconceivable to the 
ancients ; for never had an artist of antiquity created any form 
so utterly transfigured with misery as was that of the mourning 
Hecuba. The Christo-Germanic hotspurs of the circle of artists 
at Rome observed with disgust that their leading representative 
was approximating in his work to the detested pagans Winckel- 
mann and Goethe, and that the neo-classicist tendency which had 
originated in Berlin was everywhere gaining the victory. The 
school of San Isidoro, once so fruitful, gradually broke up ; its 
members returned home, most to devote themselves to a purely 
ecclesiastical art which lived only in anachronisms. Of the 
notable men among them, Overbcck alone remained on the ' 
Tiber, continuing faithfully to observe the old Nazarcne principles, j 

290 1 

Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

So well, however, was he able to illuminate by the depth and 
the warmth of his faith the narrow world of Christian figures 
which to him was the only world of real existence, that even 
the Italians ultimately came to honour him as a new Fra 
Angelico, and it was a delight to the pious convert to adorn 
with his grave pictures the oratory of St. Francis in the 
Portiuncula at Assisi. Munich, hke Berlin, must have its great 
gallery of paintings. The Boisserees' collection, which was too 
costly for the Prussians, was at length acquired for Bavaria. 
Its principal works, together with those of the Diisseldorf gallery, 
which during the revolutionary years had been illegally removed 
to Munich, constituted the groundwork of the collection of the 
Munich Pinakothek. 

Thus within a few years a multiform new hfe awakened in 
the domain of the fine arts, and almost all the German courts 
gradually began to cherish these youthful energies ; it was felt 
to be a duty to compensate the nation in any way that was 
possible for the painful failure of its political hopes. Even the 
venerable remnants of ancient German art, which had suffered 
so terribly during the Enlightenment mania of the previous 
century, now found faithful guardians on all hands, and when in 
the year 1820 the town of Goslar had its cathedral, the richest 
in memories of all the Saxon land, pulled down, this was every- 
where considered a piece of almost incredible vandahsra. 

During the period of German romanticism no other art bore 
such ripe and thoroughly sound fruits as music, which had ever 
been the most closely akin to the German genius. In music 
the sense of form of the Teutons always displayed its activity 
with a frank primitiveness, cdtogether tmdisturbed by the hostile 
criticism which in other departments so often interfered with the 
freedom of creation. Music remained faithful to the Germans 
even at a time when our intellectual life seemed almost defunct ; 
even the arid century which preceded the peace of Westphalia 
enheartened itself by the thrilling strains of Luther's hymnal. 

I At a later date, when the new national culture had as yet 
hardly begun, Handel and Bach composed their classic works ; 
until at length during the blossoming time of our poetry, through 
the labours of Gluck, Haydn, and Mozart, music was in Germany 
> raised to a height which that of no other nation has ever 

rined. The most many-sided of all composers came to stand 
the side of the most many-sided of the poets. Both owed 

History of Germany 

to the mysterious energy of immediate environment a wonderful 
ease of creation ; but how far simpler and more natural was the 
lot£of^Mozart. He produced for an audience which followed 
him with grateful receptivity, and lived in confidential inter- 
course with the singers and other musicians whose parts he 
wrote expressly for them. In this way every one of his works 
became a well-rounded whole ; he was spared all the fragmen- 
tary attempts and false starts which Goethe in his loneliness was 
unable to avoid. Music united even more than literature all of 
German blood in a common joy ; the majority of the great 
composers belonged by birth or by long residence to those 
Austrian lands which had so little share in the work of our poesy, 
and found there, above all, the most happy understanding. 

Even during Mozart's lifetime there became manifest that 
opposition between the naive and the sentimental which, based 
upon the very nature of all the arts, must inevitably manifest 
itself in their periods of richest development. Like, Michel- 
angelo beside Raphael, like Schiller beside Goethe, Beethoven 
appeared beside Mozart, an emotional genius who with elemental 
energy pressed forward towards the infinite almost beyond the 
hmits of his art, a singer of freedom, of virile pride, filled with 
ideas of the rights of man. His Eroica had been dedicated to 
Bonaparte, the heir of the Revolution, but he tore up this 
dedication and trampled it under foot when he heard of the 
arbitrary acts of the despot. Never did he compose more 
greatly than when he was describing the anciently cherished idea 
of the free Teutons, the victory of the serene spirit over the 
obscurity of destiny, as in the Symphony in C minor. The 
composer himself, the deaf master of sound, was a living witness 
to the miraculous energy of the god-inspired will. He was able 
to move even the blas^ society of the Vienna congress by his 
lofty song of faithfulness, Fidelio ; but the ability to follow in 
its entirety the bold flight of his Symphonies was reserved for 
a later generation. 

From the very first, the development of our music exhibited 
a purely national character, and it was therefore impossible that 
it could remain untouched by the romantic moods and great 
events of the age. Immediately after the war, Carl Maria von 
Weber composed music for the Sword Soni^, Liitzows wilder Jagd, 
and other poems of Komer whose musical setting first assured 
their imperishability, and kept alive in thousands of youthful 
hearts the enthusiasm of the War of Liberation. A deliberate 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

advocate of patriotic sentiment and culture, he then undertook 
the leadership of the newly established German Operatic Society 
in Dresden, and succeeded in throwing altogether into the shade 
Italian opera, which the court, after the custom of the previous 
century, still favoured as the more genteel ; he even summoned 
the press to his aid in order to initiate his countrymen into the 
the understanding of German art. Bom in Holstein but by 
blood and temperament a genuine Austrian, he became during 
his extensive wanderings intimately acquainted with the land 
and the people of almost every corner of German soil ; it was 
from the very heart of the nation that he created the first 
German romantic op)era, Der Freischiitz, a work of youthful 
freshness, describing so ingenuously and faithfully all the atmos- 
phere and all the haunting charm of the German forest, that 
we of a later generation find it difficult to realise that a time ever 
existed when the German woodman did not sing to the strains of the 
French horn, " What is there on earth Uke the hunter's deUght ? " 
At the same time German song attained its highest development 
through the work of a pious and modest Viennese composer, 
Franz Schubert ; the entire gamut of the most secret moods of 
the soul was at his command, and above all he was attracted 
by the gentle beauty of Goethe's verse. Soon afterwards, 
Uhland's songs found a congenial composer in the Swabian 
Conradin Kreutzer. 

Romanticist music remained completely free from the 

catholicising tendency by which so many of the poets of the 

romantic school were affected, and this despite the fact that 

most of our notable composers were members of the Catholic 

church. It expressed plainly and straightforwardly that which 

was common to all ; it realised the ideal of popular art so 

'often praised by the romanticist poets, but truly attained 

lamong them by Uhland alone ; and since in no art has dilet- 

[tantism so good a right as in music it soon drew the people 

I also into free co-operation. Already in the seventeen-nineties, 

Rovers of music had assembled in the singing academy of Berlin 

to act as choir in the performance of Handel's splendid 

)ratorios and similar works. Zelter, Goethe's unpolished and 

^arm-hearted friend, founded in Berlin in the year 1808 the first 

[German choral society, a small circle of poets, singers, and 

composers, to cultivate the art of song. Several other North 

iGerman states followed this example. In the Prussian national 

[army there was no end to cheerful singing during the war ; 


History of Germany 

Liitzow's volunteers had a trained choir, and their example 
was, after the peace, imitated by many of the Prussian 

Then, at the right moment (1817), NageH, the Swiss 
musician, published his Gesangbilderngslehre fiir Mdnnerchor ; he 
spoke of choral singing as " the one kind of national life of 
common interest to all that is possible in the realm of the 
higher art," and summoned the whole nation to participate in 
it. Seven years later originated the Stuttgart choral society, 
the prototype of the numerous choral societies of South and 
Central Germany. In accordance with the free democratic 
methods of the highlands, they counted from the first upon a 
greater membership than did the comparatively domestic choral 
societies of the north, and did not hesitate to give public per- 
formances and to appear in choral festivals. Music became the 
social art of the new century, became what oratory had been in 
the days of the Cinquecento, an indispensable ornament of every 
German festival, a genuine pride of the nation. The love of 
song awakened in every district to a degree which had never 
been known since the days of the meistersingers. There was a 
vivid sense that with this new and nobler form of sociability a 
breath of freer air entered the national life, and the boast was 
gladly made that " before the power of song the ridiculous 
limitations of class fall to the ground." It was through song 
alone that countless members of the common people received 
an intimation of a pure and sublime world, uplifted above the 
dust and sweat of daily life ; and when this valuable gift is 
taken into consideration it seems of comparatively little account 
that the vague enthusiasm which characterless music awakens, 
confirmed many a German dreamer in the disordered enthusiasm 
of his sentimental political ideas. 

Yet it was not in vain that the new generation had steeled 
its energies in a national war, nor was it in vain that subse- 
quently, at every stage in the development of the new poesy, 
the return to nature was preached, the return to the simply 
human. On all sides, the national customs became more manly, 
more vigorous, and more natural, and everywhere, too, they 
became unconsciously more democratic ; the epoch of excessive 
domesticity, of carefully closed clubs and private circles, was 
drawing to an end. Since the peace, it had become possible 
to resume the long interrupted practice of travelling. Whilst 
rich foreigners undertook the grand tour through Europe, whose 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

principal romantic attractions had been indicated by Lord Byron 
in Childe Harold, the easily contented Germans preferred to visit 
the modest charms of their native central mountains. The 
crags of the Meissener highlands, which pastor Gotzinger had 
recently made accessible, became esteemed under the name of 
the Saxon Switzerland. Gottschalck's guidebook to the Hartz 
mountains was the first to give advice to mountaineers, and 
after Reichard had published his Passagier, the number of 
guide-books for travellers continued gradually to increase. The 
travellers of the two preceding centuries had sought out the 
works of man, everything that was rare and remarkable ; the 
new age preferred the romantic charms of picturesque landscape 
and regions memorable in the history of the fatherland. 
Travelling on horseback, which had formerly been so greatly 
preferred, became rare, owing to the general impoverishment. 
When Arndt in youth wandered through Germany on foot he 
found for the most part only journeymen as companions on the 
road ; now the poesy of foot-travel had become a delight to 
cultured youth as well, and the true gymnast must be a 
hardy pedestrian. A new world of blameless joys was 
opened to the young men of Germany when throughout 
Thuringia and Franconia, and on the Rhine, happy troops of 
students or artists went singing on their way through the 
summer time. Every ruined fortress and every mountain top 
commanding a fine view was visited ; at night the jolly comrades 
settled down cheerfully in the straw in peasants' inns, or they 
quartered themselves on a hospitable pastor. Guitar slung over 
his shoulder, August von Binzer, the pride of the Jena Burschen- 
schaft, wandered happily all over Germany, and the young 
iople flocked together in all the villages in order to listen to 
the playing and singing of the new troubadour. 

The political sentiments of the rising generation were 
gradually transformed by this joyous Hfe of wandering. The 
^oung men became familiar with the thought of national unity, 
feeling at home everjrwhere upon German soil, they learned 
that the kernel of our nationality is the same throughout 
rermany, notwithstanding the multiplicity of the forms of life ; 
md they looked with increasing hostility uf)on the artificial 
)arriers which political forms had established amid this single 
)eople. Unfortunately the recognition was made almost exclu- 
sively by the North Germans. Since North Germany had little 
|to offer in the way of the romantic glories which to this generation 


History of Germany 

seemed alone worthy of regard, the South Germans seldom 
left their beautiful native mountains. Whereas in the north it 
was soon hardly possible to find a man of culture who had seen 
nothing of the land and people of the south, in the highlands 
particularist self-satisfaction, the child of ignorance, continued to 
flourish. For a long time to come South Germany remained 
the Acropolis of hateful tribal prejudices. In the north there were 
now to be found, outside Berlin, no more than a few isolated fools 
who denied understanding and culture to the South Germans. 
Far more often in the south was to be heard the accusation 
that the North Germans were lacking in kindliness ; many an 
excellent highlander believed that the lands northward of the 
Main were an interminable dreary plain, and was of opinion 
that under this wintry sky the only things that could continue 
to thrive were sand and aesthetic tea, criticism and junkerdom. 

§ 3. SCIENCE. 

The mighty revolution of the general world-outlook which 
had begun within German science since its entry into historic 
life, the whole contrast between the old century and the new, 
found memorable expression in a learned dispute whose profound 
significance was not understood at all abroad, and even in 
Germany was understood by very few. The greatly desired 
re-establishment of the Germanic Empire had been prevented by 
the rapid course of the war. All the more passionately did the 
disappointed patriots cling to those hopes whose fulfilment still 
appeared possible under the Germanic Federation ; and of these 
there was none which seemed so reasonable and so modest as 
the demand for unification of the national law. Rulers and 
ruled were at this moment agreed as to the necessity for abolish- 
ing the enforced code NapoUon. Was the old common law to be 
reintroduced in place of the French law books, that law of the 
Roman jurists which the Teutonising zealots regarded as the 
deadly enemy of general Teutonic freedom ? Was there also to 
be re-introduced that tangle of local laws whose variegated com- 
plexity was uncongenial at once to patriots and to philosophers? 
The hour seemed to have arrived for the simultaneous overthrow 
of the foreign system and of ]>articularism by the introduction 
of a national code. The great basic ideas of natural law had 
long ago been established by the philosophical jurists of the 


wr ( 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

previous century ; if only a wise and vigorous legislator could 
be found, it ought not to be difficult to apply these ideas to 
Germany. It was by such views that public opinion was domi- 
nated when Thibaut, the celebrated teacher of the Pandects at 
Heidelberg, in a little work full of patriotic fire, expounded the 
deplorable consequences of the existing dismemberment of the 
country and " the necessity for a general civil law for Germany " ; 
he proposed that the future German legal code should be placed, 
like a state treaty, under the general guarantee of the aUied 
powers. Almost the entire patriotic press expressed its agree- 
ment with this view. 

Then, in the autumn of 1814, appeared the opposing work 
of Carl Friedrich von Savigny, Vom Beruf unserer Zeit fur 
Gesetzgebung und Rechtswissenschaft, the scientific programme of 
the historical school of law. Its influence was all the more 
powerful because even those of contrary view could not but feel 
that this work did not convey the opinion of a single man, but 
expounded the well-established data of that profounder and freer 
conception of national Hfe which had first been elucidated in 
the talented foreshadowings of Herder aud of Moser, and in the 
anti-revolutionary earlier writings of Gentz and of Wilhelm 
Humboldt, which had subsequently undergone scientific elabora- 
tion at the hands of Niebuhr and Eichhom, and had then 
found practical application in the laws of Stein and Schamhorst. 
Among the professors of civil law, Gustav Hugo of Gottingen 
was the first to take up a decisive attitude in opposition to 
the doctrines of the eighteenth century. His keen understand- 
ing made it impossible for him to rest in the insoluble duaUsm 
of the doctrine of natural rights ; it seemed to him unthinkable 
that a fixed and unchangeable natural law could be opp>osed 
to the plastic positive law. Consequently he abruptly expelled 
from the domain of speculation, law and the state as 
phenomena of the historic world, and put before jurisprudence 
the task of pursuing positive law backwards through its transfor- 
mations up to its ultimate roots, and thus learning to understand 
it historically. Supported by a thorough study of original 
sources, such as had long been unknown to arrested German 
jurisprudence, he began to expound the development of Roman 
legal history, and showed that the much lamented adoption of 
Roman law in Germany was to be regarded, not as the outcome 
of chance or confusion, but as a natural act of the German 
spirit, as a natural outcome of the civilisation of the German 


History of Germany 

renaissance. Hugo the Kantian did not propound the deeper 
problem, why the configuration of positive law is at once so 
manifold and so mobile. 

It was here that Savigny set to work, Savigny who was 
master of the wider outlook of the romanticist philosophy of 
history. With that convincing calm which made the obscurest 
matters seem lucid, he showed that the development of law was 
not determined by subjective ideas, but by the spirit of the 
nations as manifested in universal history. Law does not exist 
once for all, but comes into existence and continues to grow, 
like language, with the nations, with their beliefs, their customs, 
their whole mental furniture. Consequently the body of the 
laws comes into existence, not, as had been believed during the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, solely or preponderantly 
through legislation, but through the continuous co-operation of 
the people themselves, who actively participate in the establish- 
ment of customary laws, and, as their culture becomes maturer, 
in the deliberate work of jurisprudence. It is precisely in the 
youngest nations that the law-fashioning energy is the most 
powerful, that the restricted but vigorous individuality of the 
law has not yet been atrophied by the indefinite generality 
which seems characteristic of the law of aging nations. Savigny 
then shows, referring to analogies in the history of art, that not 
every time is called to every work, and proceeds to demonstrate the 
utterly unripe condition of German jurisprudence. How far 
had German legal science, alike in its richness of ideas and in 
the development of its terminology, lagged behind the advance 
of general literature, and how clumsy would be a legal code 
established with the aid of such defective powers ! What we 
need, said the writer in conclusion, is an organically progressive 
system of jurisprudence common to the entire nation, based 
upon a study of existing law traced back to its earliest sources, 
in order to discriminate between what is still living and what 
belongs to an outworn past ; herein we shall find the temporarily 
attainable unity of German law. If this unity undergoes such a 
degree of independent development as to exercise an intellectual 
control over existing law, the demand for codification (which 
among the Romans first became manifest in the days of deca- 
dence) will spontaneously disappear. 

It was owing to this work that the science of positive law 
became enabled to assume once more an equal standing with the 
other mental and moral sciences. In the previous century it was 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

only the ideas of the philosophers regarding law which were 
received with respect ; the study of actual law had been 
contemptuously left to the formal acuteness of juristic handi- 
craftsmen. Now the science of positive jurisprudence came to 
recognise that upon it also was imposed a philosophic task, that 
it had to teach how the rationale of history is manifested and 
unfolded in the evolution of legislation, and that it had thus to 
participate in the best intellectual work of the epoch, whose 
glory it was to endeavour to awaken humanity to a consciousness 
of its historic growth and thus to an understanding of its own 
nature. In the remoter distance, there at length became appa- 
rent a still higher task, which Savigny merely indicated, leaving 
coming generations to deal with it. If it should become 
possible to demonstrate in every individual case the internal 
necessity of the configuration of law, to demonstrate its causal 
interconnection with the national economy and the general 
civilisation of the various peoples, then, last of all, the laws of 
legislation itself must be discovered. The little book threw a 
striking light upon many of the most difficult problems of 
historical science, which to the philosophical century had still 
seemed incomprehensible. No one had hitherto shown so vividly 
how the past continues to exercise an influence over the present 
even without the knowledge and in opposition to the desire of 
the living, how the energy and the will of the individual are sub- 
ordinated to the mass-acquirements of his epoch, how every 
growth of civiHsation necessarily brings with it a certain loss, 
and how consequently the proud doctrine which was so easily 
accepted by the age of the Revolution, the doctrine of the 
eternal progress of humanity, has the value merely of an 
unproved assertion. No one before had so victoriously refuted 

le darling illusion of the day, which sought freedom in 
forms of government. Freedon and despotism, said Savigny, 
ire possible in every kind of constitution : freedom is found 
everywhere where the state authority respects nature and history 
In the living energies of the people ; despotism is found every- 
irhere where the government proceeds in accordance with the 
lictates of subjective arbitrariness. 

Eleven years earUer, in his first published work. Das Recht 
Us Besitzes, Savigny had written a book comparable with the 

jst performances of the great French civil jurists of the six- 
teenth century. Now, with his Geschichte des Romischen Rechts 
im Mittelalfer, he entered a domain hitherto entirely unworked, 


History of Germany 

disclosing for the first time the intimate connection between 
ancient and modem law. By the mysterious favour of destiny, 
which it is impossible to regard as chance, it invariably happens 
that as soon as definite intimations of a great new discovery 
are manifested in science, help comes to the hand of the 
investigator. Thus at Verona in 1816, Niebuhr discovered the 
palimpsest of the Institutes of Gains ; the classic age of Roman 
jurisprudence, which had hitherto been known almost exclusively 
through the scanty fragments given in the Pandects, came 
suddenly to Ufe before the eyes of an astonished later generation. 
The history of Roman law was reconstituted by a long series 
of thorough individual researches, whilst simultaneously Eich- 
hom continued his history of German law, and Jacob Grimm 
and a number of other young men of talent studied the sources 
of Teutonic law. The Zeitschrift fur geschichtliche Rechtswissens- 
chaften, issued by Savigny and Eichhom, became the forum of 
the continually growing historical school of law, a school of 
which Savigny remained the recognised chief and most efficient 
exponent The compelling force of academic eloquence and 
the creative energy of genius, so rarely found united, were 
united in Savigny. Whilst his somewhat haughty manner 
seemed at first repellent anyone who came into closer contact 
with the jurist was soon encouraged by the amiable mildness of 
his judgments, and learned that in science also modest gifts 
have their place if they avoid unscientific presumption. Advanc- 
ing along the paths traced by Savigny, German jurisprudence 
gradually became at home once more in the field of positive 
law, and after two generations felt strong enough to comfute 
the master himself, and to demonstrate in actual practice, " the 
vocation of our age for legislation." 

The historical doctrine of law ran absolutely counter to the 
prevailing opinions of the day. The patriots were annoyed 
because their cherished dream was disturbed, and profound injury 
was inflicted even upon the self-satisfaction of the philosophers. 
H^el spoke of Savigny's work as an affront to the epoch, and 
Schdn, the liberal Kantian, could never see in the mighty 
thought-work of the historical science of law anything more than 
" jottings from chronicles." On the other hand, the bureau- 
cracy of the Confederation of the Rhine listened with horror to 
phrases about the law-constructing energy of the national spirit, 
which left so little scope for the wisdom of the boardroom ; 
Conner, the Bavarian councillor, went so far in a malicious 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

lampoon as to accuse the adherents of the historical school of 
being men of demagogic views. In reality, the fundamental 
ideas of the new doctrine stood high above the realm of party 
struggle. If it remained true to itself it would be forced to 
condemn with equal vigour obstinate adhesion to the established 
order and frivolous attempts at revolutionary legislation, whilst 
its critical strength and sobriety had absolutely nothing in 
common with the mystical dreams of the neo-CathoUc roman- 
ticists. None the less, Savigny could not disavow his romanticist 
comrades. Just as all the science of that day despised epochs 
of clear and conscious culture in comparison with the twilit early 
life of the nations, just as the brothers Grimm preferred folk- 
songs to more highly developed poetry, whilst Amim approvingly 
exclaimed to them, " You pay respect to that which no one can 
claim as his own, to spontaneous growth," so also the master 
of the historical doctrine of law preferred to devote himself to 
periods of half-unconscious legislation, when law and custom 
were still but partially distinguished one from another, and when 
law, like language, seemed to arise by spontaneous growth. The 
entire epoch was dominated by the aesthetic view of the world, 
and thus it was that Savigny involuntarily appUed the measure 
of art to law, demanding from the legislator what the writers of 
the Xenien had once justly demanded of the artist, that he 
should be silent if he was unable to reaHse the ideal. He failed 
to see that in political Ufe it is determined by the dictates of 
hard necessity that the statesman must provide, not what is 
perfect, but what is indispensable Dahlmann repUed to Savigny 
with good reason when he said : "If the roof falls in over my 
head, my vocation to reconstruction is decided for me." 

Like all the romanticists, Savigny had acquired his culture 
in a struggle with the ideas of the Revolution, and although as 
a statesman he was never a man of extreme views, he was 
unable to do historical justice to this most recent epoch, which 
itself also belonged to history, and took a manifestly unfair view 
of the code Napoleon. In his detestation of the shallow love of 
novelty characteristic of the modem world, he failed to recognise 
that law is ultimately determined, not by the national intelli- 
gence but by the national will, which in periods of higher 
civilisation can find expression through the mouth of the state 
alone. He did not always notice that the great transformations of 
national hfe, which to the historian have an aspect of inevitable 
necessity, were after all rendered possible only by the will of 


History of Germany 

the doers, by the choice and the stress of free resolve. One 
who bUndly followed Savigny might readily lapse into a dull 
fatalism, and be tempted to erase completely from history the 
most priceless energy of the historic worid, the power of the 
will. The saying " A constitution cannot be made, it must 
grow," the equivocal praise of " organic development," and 
similar favourite phrases of the historical school, served those 
inspired with an unreflective love of repose as a welcome excuse 
for refraining from all exertion. The consequence was that an 
achievement of German science which should have filled the 
whole nation with pride, was soon diverted into the sphere of 
the petty contentions of the day. The mass of the liberals long 
continued to cleave to the obsolete doctrine of natural rights, 
and nevertheless in individual cases exhibited more historical 
sense and a better understanding of the signs of the times than 
their opponents. The conservative parties adopted the ideas of 
the historical school more or less in good faith, and looked down 
with the consciousness of scientific superiority upon the super- 
ficiahty of liberal teaching. "Rational law" and "historical 
law " were the catchwords of the two sides in a fundamentally 
unmeaning dispute which for decades continued to increase the 
embitterment of our pubhc life, and which at times lost its way 
in a hopeless confusion of terminology. The rough experiences 
of the year 1848 were needed before those of one party could 
learn to envisage history as an eternal process of becoming, and 
before those of the other party could recognise that in the Ufe 
of the state that only is rational which has historical founda- 
tions. Not until then did the name of the historical school lose 
the offensive significance of a party label ; not until then did 
the indestructible nucleus of its doctrines gradually become the 
common property of all moderate politicians. 

Among the pioneers of the new historic culture, no 
other commanded so wide a circle of history as Barthold 
Niebuhr. No one regarded with such incisive contempt the literary 
arrogance of the old school, whose members were learned in 
books but knew little of life, for Niebuhr was a man of almost 
universal knowledge, who followed with luminous understanding 
every European movement in politics, science, and art. The 
unpfjlitical generation of the last few decades had esteemed 
Scliiller's romantic historical tales and the experiments of Herder 
and Schlegel in the philosophy of history more highly than 
Spittler's objective political presentation ; Niebuhr was not 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

merely the founder of the new critical method of writing history 
(through the brilliant independence of his research, which never 
failed to investigate the original sources of information), but 
further, he placed the state in its proper position, in the very 
centre of the historic stage, carrying out in action the opinion 
of the Greeks that the historian must be endowed before all 
with a political intelligence. He knew how rapidly the civilisa- 
tion and the moral energy of a nation withers when it lacks 
power to enforce respect from the world, and he described with 
pitiless severity the atrophy of the German character that 
resulted from the empty semblance of life characteristic of 
particularism ; he knew how petty, backbiting, and slanderous 
this generation had become, to which " honour is a horribly 
oppressive sentiment." In the narrow worlds of antiquity and 
of the middle ages, it was possible for petty states to maintain 
themselves as transmitters of civilisation ; but to-day " only in 
great states whose structure is homogeneous is a full life attain- 
able." He had formed his views of the state from experience 
of actual hfe, from contemplation of the anciently estabhshed 
peasant freedom of his native Ditmarsh, through journeys in 
England and Holland and through prolonged activities as a 
bank manager and as an administrator. Consequently he was, 
like Stein, a declared enemy of every search for poUtical systems 
and, once more Uke Stein, found the comer stone of freedom 
in self-government, which accustoms the citizen to stand man- 
fully upon his own feet, and to learn the art of government 
after the manner of the ancients by laying his own hand upon 
the tiller. It is of more importance, he said, whether the 
subjects in individual communes are or are not kept in a state 
of tutelage, than whether the boundaries between authoritative 
id representative government move this way or that. Conse- 
quently he recognised immediately that, notwithstanding the 
Iharte of the Bourbons, France was still a despotic land, because 
Ithe Napoleonic administrative order persisted unchanged. In 
|order to warn his compatriots against one-sided and excessive 
Jsteem for constitutional forms of government, and in order to 
[remind them once more of the sound basic ideas of Stein's 
reforms, he pubUshed soon after the establishment of peace that 
[treatise by Vincke upon the British constitution which had 
[come into existence under Stein's eyes,^ saying bluntly in his 

See Vol. I., p. 319. 

History of Germany 

preface, to the horror of the Hberal world, " freedom depends 
far more upon administration than upon constitution." 

His Roman History, too, was quite as much a work of 
personal experience, as a testimony to his powers as an investi- 
gator, and for this reason even his contemporaries counted it 
among those classic books which never become obsolete, even 
though it may be refuted in every detail. When calling the 
past into existence he enjoyed the happiness of creation ; and 
since he could never engage in activity with but a single energy 
of his soul, he threw all the intimacy of his own passionate 
powers of perception, all the earnestness of his moral judgment, 
into the exposition of those struggles in Rome which to most 
of his predecessors had been merely the dry materials of learn- 
ing ; every turn of the often severe but always noble and 
original style reflected the profound movements of a great 
spirit. He tells us himself that he would never have been able 
to write the initial volume without an actual first-hand view of 
the English state ; subsequently, shaken to the soul, he had 
seen the storms of a titanic epoch break over the country of 
his election ; through such experiences there had resulted a 
continued growth of his understanding of Roman history, which 
had of old absorbed into itself the history of all nations as 
rivers are absorbed by the sea. Then his diplomatic career led 
him to Rome, He lived here for years, and although he never 
overcame his longing for home, his historic imagination, which 
loved to elucidate the distant and the strange with the aid of 
the near and the familiar, was continually and powerfully 
stimulated. The ancient world took form before his senses : 
in the shape of the fields he could recognise the technical skill 
of the ancient land-surveyors, in the misery of the modem 
metayers he perceived the curse of the Roman latifundial system 
in persistent operation ; and when in the Vatican he saw the 
ancient sarcophagus with the touching image of the faithful 
spouses it seemed to him as if he were contemplating himself 
and his transfigured first wife. 

Thus the slowly maturing re-elaboration and continuation of 
the work received that characteristically warm tone which gave 
the charm of life even to dry lists of figures and to circum- 
stantial critical excursuses. The world of antiquity had hitherto 
appeared to be something utterly disparate from our own ; but 
here everything seemed intimate and comprehensible. The 
historian described the fate of Pontius and of Pyrrhus in the 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

same simply human spirit in which, shortly before, in a masterly 
sketch, he had related the life of his father, the great traveller, 
Carsten Niebuhr. To the orthodox philologists of the old school, 
the bold critic who had disturbed the traditions of the history 
of the Roman kings was for long a thorn in the side. What 
a storm was raised, finally, when with statesmanlike insight he 
traced the necessity of that slow revolution which led the plebs 
to dominion, and even demonstrated the justice of the notorious 
agrarian laws. He did not hesitate to apply even to the classic 
poets of ancient Rome the new doctrine of the romanticists that 
national poetry alone is truly hving, and said in plain terms : 
" If form can per se be fatal, this is true above all of a foreign 
form ; and for this reason Roman literature was in a certain 
sense stillborn ! " 

Yet, even this free spirit was prone to suffer from a 
gloomy timorousness which sometimes led him completely to 
misunderstand the living energies of the time. In his darker 
hours he would passionately complain that the epicurean Zeit- 
geisi of these easy-going days ruined all scientific work ! So 
sensitive was his temperament that he was inspired with horror by 
the decivilising forces of the Revolution. In his student days, when 
reading Fichte's defence of the Revolution, he had exclaimed : 
" What remains for us but death if such principles should 
become dominant ? " The son of a distinguished father, and at 
the same time one of those rare juvenile prodigies who fulfil 
in manhood the promise of childhood, he was accustomed from 
his earliest days to the admiration of his entourage, and was 
renowned on his own account even before he had written any- 
thing ; a man of affectionate disposition, he was throughout life 
on terms of tender and intimate friendship with such brilliant 
intelligences as Count Moltke, Dahlmann, and Count Dessere. 
[e could never endure the proximity of the common or the 
)ase. Is it surprising that to this aristocrat of the spirit 
lothing seemed more detestable than the power of broad 
lediocrity which invariably tends to predominate in democratic 
spochs ? 

When he contemplated the poUtical immaturity of his 

lation and the triviality of the current constitutional doctrines, 

|t seemed to him that for the time being Stein's administrative 

if orms had gone far enough ; and he agreed with the criticism 

)f the stout-hearted Dahlmann, " organisation and administration 

[do not proceed on parallel lines ; a moment inevitably comes 

305 X 

History of Germany 

in which they coalesce, to separate no longer." Although he 
recognised the worthlessness of the Italian governments, and 
openly declared that Rome had been far happier under Napoleon 
than under the restored papal administration, when the ill- 
treated population first ventured to rise in revolt he was over- 
come by his hatred of the Revolution, and angrily exclaimed 
that in this country no one but a fool or a knave could speak 
of freedom. The far-seeing thinker, who was already with 
marvellous precision able to foresee the war between the southern 
and the northern states of the American union, showed neverthe- 
less in his plan for the constitution of the Netherlands that the 
most thorough knowledge of the past by no means excludes a 
complete misunderstanding of the present. He knew the extra- 
ordinary state-structure of the republic of the seven provinces 
down to its remotest comers and recesses, and he knew why it 
had crumbled to pieces. But when, in November, 1813, the 
prince of Orange asked him to write proposals for the recon- 
struction of the Netherlands, the enemy of the Revolution could 
not make up his mind to recognise as an accomplished fact the 
notable transformation which had taken place in the country 
since the year 1794. The unified state, created by French 
arms, but for which the way had long been prepared in history, 
seemed to him to display a revolutionary uniformity; in 
all earnestness he proposed to reanimate the utterly defunct 
federalism, and demanded the re-estabUshment of the old federa- 
tion of states. Thus historical reverence led him to put forward 
a scheme which, notwithstanding its profoundly learned character, 
was just as impossible, and in its essence no less unhistorical 
than were the hastily conceived constitutional structures of the 
Jacobin benefactors. 

Through Niebuhr's researches the uncritical and uncondi- 
tional veneration of antiquity became undermined ; the antique 
world was reintroduced into the current of time. Simultaneously 
a new conception of mediaeval history began to prevail. By the 
philosophical century, the civilisation of the middle ages had 
been passionately assailed, whereas by youthful romanticism it 
had been blindly admired ; now the attempt was made to 
understand it. Public sentiment was, indeed, still profoundly 
influenced by the old rationalism ; a considerable lapse of time 
was yet needed before a scientific judgment of the detested and 
obscure middle ages became endurable. When young Johannes 
Voigt wrote his Hildehrand as Pope Gregory VII and his 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

Epoch, he was severely criticised in the press ; this faithful 
Protestant was reproached for the display of CathoUc sentiments 
because he had honourably recognised Hildebrand's personal 
greatness. Meanwhile Friedrich von Raumer was engaged in 
the preliminary work for his History of the Hohenstaufen ; and 
just as Schon was working at the restoration of the Marienburg, 
Stein was devoting the best energies of his old age to the 
collection of the sources of our primitive history. In the new 
year of 1819 he founded the society for the pubUcation of the 
Monumenta Germaniae. The distinctive motto of the great 
undertaking was Sanctus Amor Patriae dot Animmn, Gradually 
it produced a line of historical investigators, and thus laid a 
secure foundation for the knowledge of the German middle ages. 
But all this was still in its inception ; during the first years of 
peace it was in Niebuhr alone that the poUtical treatment of 
history found a classic representative. 

All the more extensive was the success of the philologists, 
who now first gained a clear understanding of their historic task. 
Boeckh's saying, " There is no philology which is not history," 
was in everyone's mouth. The philologists fulfilled what the 
romanticist poets had promised. The time now really came 
whose coming Novalis had once prophesied, " when in fables 
and poems there is recognised the undying course of world- 
history." That bold saying, too, of Friedrich Schlegel, in which the 
historian had been termed a " skilful prophet whose gaze is directed 
backwards," now found its justification; for suddenly the remote 
youth of the Indo-Germanic peoples, which had hitherto been 
inaccessible to research, was illuminated by science, and from 
this in turn was diffused a reflected light upon the foundations 
of contemporary European civilisation. The same tendency of 
the age which dominated the historical school of political science 
and the historical doctrine of law, led the philologists also to 
conceive of language as a continuous growth. They too, like 
Niebuhr and Savigny, opened a campaign against the abstrac- 
tions of the previous century, preparing the way for a less 
presumptuous and consequently freer view of the universe. 
The^arrogant illusion that the great objective course of historic 
life proceeds from the free preferences of individual men, the 
belief in natural rights and the universally valid religion of 
reason, collapsed hopelessly as soon as philology showed that 
which can most readily be proved from the history of lan- 
^^uage, that the human being lives only in and with his nation. 


History of Germany 

Wilhelm Humboldt, in one of his brilliant minor essays, had already 
given expression to the pregnant thought that the formation of 
language, like folk-poesy, is completed by the instrumentality of 
individuals, and yet proceeds always from the whole. To this 
truth, which in its ultimate profundity unquestionably involves 
an ever-insoluble enigma, Jacob Grimm continually returned. 
He showed how the higher forms of poetry issue from the folk- 
song, " which is of spontaneous origin," and he found in the 
ancient folk-epic a content which was neither purely mythical 
nor purely historical, but one exhibiting a fusion of divine and 
human history. 

Here, strangely enough, he was opposed by A. W. Schlegel. 
The old romanticist could not break completely loose from the 
rationalism of the previous century, which sought throughout 
history for evidence of calculation and purpose. Just as he 
struggled against Niebuhr's critical boldness, so also he main- 
tained in opposition to Grimm that the folk-epic was the 
conscious work of poets who endeavoured in artistic rivalry 
to outbid one another by remarkable productions. There was, in 
fact, danger that youthful German science might succumb to 
that mythical tendency which dominated the younger school of 
romanticism. Delighted by the great discovery of the creative 
energy of the folk-genius, Grimm followed with such joy the 
dominion of the unconscious, of the spontaneously natural, in 
intellectual creation, that he almost completely lost sight of the 
free activity of artistic genius. Weaker heads became utterly fl 
immersed in foolish fantasies ; von der Hagen imagined that in 
the Nibelungenlied he could rediscover the myths of the Creation 
and the Fall. 

Yet the clear spirit of Jacob Grimm, Protestant to the core, 
could not long linger in the dreamy borderland of science, and 
he soon turned to a province of research which promised incom- 
parably more definite results. In the year 1819, with his 
Deutsche Grammatik, he founded the science of historical gram- 
mar. Others had philosophised about language or endeavoured 
to establish its laws ; he contented himself with studying its 
growth step by step, and since he had already recognised 
the primitive unity of the Teutonic languages, he utihsed for 
comparison all the subdivisions of this group of tongues. Here 
also, influenced by a brilliant suggestion of Wilhelm Humboldt, 
he established the important difference between the accented 
root-syllables which contain the sense of words, and the purely 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

formal constituents of the vocabulary. Thus law and life were 
soon given to the study of the development of our language, 
which had hitherto seemed so enigmatical and so much a matter 
of chance. In the innocent, poetic, physically fresh youth of 
the nation — thus wrote Grimm with artistic vividness — language 
also displays a sensual energy and obviousness. It loves form 
for form's sake and luxuriates in the sound of euphonious inflec- 
tions* But as civilisation matures, language becomes more 
intellectual and abstract, and aims at clearness and brevity ; 
the ear is more obtuse and has lost pleasure in form ; the 
soberer understanding is no longer concerned about the sensuous 
images which underlie the words, and gradually everything is 
rejected or polished away beyond what is immediately necessary 
to make the meaning clear. It will be readily understood that 
Grimm's poetic sensibilities made him give the preference to the 
older speech, characterised by formal richness, and that his own 
style, as the years passed, became continually more sensuous 
and figurative. Yet he did not fail to recognise that a com- 
pleted evolution cannot retrace its steps, and he therefore 
strenuously resisted those meddlesome attempts to " purify " 
the language which the Teutonising zealots advocated on 
patriotic grounds, for this, he considered, would be to treat 
our ancient speech as if it had been a chance product of 

A year after the appearance of the first volume of his 
Grammatik, Grimm discovered the law of consonantal change, 
and thus at length secured for etymology, which had hitherto 
been insecurely based upon the recognition of similarity in 
sounds, a firm scientific foundation. Meanwhile the unresting 
workings of his intelligence had led him to recognise the primi- 
ive kinship of all the Indo-Germanic languages, and he regarded 
^ith delight the unending prospect which was opened from this 
lewly attained attitude. If the identical word could be dis- 
covered in Sanscrit and in all the younger languages of the 
Hied nations, the proof was afforded that the object which this 
^ord was used to denote must already have been known to the 
jnigmatical primitive nation of the Indo-Germans. Thus it 
icame possible to withdraw from the darkness the mysterious 
lational cradle of India. It was possible to ascertain by 
^search what stage of civilisation had been reached by the 
ioples of Europe before their dispersal, before their westward 
ligration began ; to discover what was common to them from 


History of Germany 

the first, and what they had subsequently acquired in their 
separate courses. The historical sciences were immediately 
faced by an interminable series of new tasks, involving the most 
intimate spiritual life of all nations and epochs. In the two 
generations which have elapsed, little more than the fringe of 
the subject has been touched. 

Whilst Jacob Grimm, a most fortunate inyestigator, thus 
advanced from discovery to discovery, his brother Wilhelm 
found satisfaction in quieter courses. It was his delight to offer 
the new generation the works of our ancient poetry in graceful 
editions with a thoughtful commentary ; after the poet's fashion 
he loved at times to lose himself amid the yearnings of happy 
dreams ; it was through his gentler pen, too, that the fairy 
tales secured their amiable form. In the two brothers there 
were incorporated two equally valuable tendencies of science. 
The elder cared only for learning and research as a form of 
poietic activity ; the younger did not scorn to provide for the 
intimate needs of those thirsting for knowledge by exercising the 
function of teacher. It was through their collection of fairy 
tales that the Grimms secured from the populace that affection 
which is so rarely accorded to the severe investigator. Through- 
out the country everyone knew good-natured anecdotes of the 
two brothers, who needed only to strike the ground with their 
magic wand in order to bring to light the rich treasure of 
ancient sagas. People told one another about their deep and 
tranquil mutual affection : how they walked through life 
uprightly and serenely side by side, and how, notwithstanding 
their great love for the fatherland, they would never abandon 
their snug Hessian home, would never leave the red mountains 
of the Fulda valley. Both were so unpretentious, and yet 
were so severe in their opposition to the fashionable idolatries 
of the day, so clear in their condemnation of all vanity, arti- 
ficiality, and untruth. It was told how their work-tables stood 
side by side in the same room, and how with an innocent joy 
they shared every new discovery. No riddle, no old wives' 
talc, and no child's lullaby, was too trifling for them ; every- 
thing derived from the sacred shrine of German speech gained 
life under their eyes ; Jacob was profoundly moved at the sight 
of any old fragment of the kind. But while engaged in their 
arduous labours they never interrupted their cordial intercourse 
with men of worth ; no conflict of opinion ever disturbed the 
faithfulness of their friendships ; how charmingly did Wilhelm 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

know how to converse in his letters with the strictly CathoUc 
Haxthausens, while occasionally Jacob would chime in with his 
deeper tones. It was a moving picture of simple greatness 
which afforded even to the uncultured some indication of the 
moral force of living science. 

Jacob Grimm valued words only on account of things. 
His work found a fortunate complement in that of Cari Lach- 
mann of Brunswick, the classically trained and strict represen- 
tative of formal philology, who valued things only on account 
of words, and who imposed upon the still rambUng youthful 
science the strict discipline of method. Equally at home in 
classical and in Teutonic tongues, he was the founder of Old 
German textual criticism and prosody, an editor of unequalled 
acumen and accuracy. What F. A. Wolf had once taught 
regarding the origin of the Homeric f)oems Lachmann applied 
to German epic poetry, and endeavoured, not without some 
violence, to dissolve the Nibelun genii ed into a series of indepen- 
dent poems. When August Zeune had presented to the volun- 
teers of 1815 his Zelt- und Feldausgahe der Nibelungen [Tent and 
Field edition of the Nibelungen], a superficial study of Old German 
poetry became a passion of Teutonising youth. It was fortu- 
nate for science that Lachmann frightened away the immature 
by the seriousness of his pitiless criticism, and thus before long 
completely expelled dilettantism from the domain of German 
philology. Meanwhile Benecke undertook his lexicographic 
labours, and the unassuming Friedrich Diez was quietly collect- 
ing the first materials for the majestic structure of his grammar 
of the Romance languages. Diez, like Lachmann, had been a 
volunteer with the German army in France ; in Giessen he had 
often sat at board with Follen and the wildest hotheads of the 
Teutonist movement, and had yet remained so free in spirit 
that just as well as a born Provencal was he able to see into 
. the heart of the beautiful language of the troubadours. 

The unequal mental equipment of different generations is 
not explicable by the varjdng favour of external circumstances 
alone ; the times educate the genius, but do not create him. 
Whenever a great transformation of spiritual Ufe has been 
preparing beneath the surface, a mysterious dispensation, whose 
counsels no human eye can fathom, gives rise to a highly gifted 
generation. At the right moment the right men emerge, dis- 
covery follows discovery, one keen spirit provides materials for 
another to work upon, though the former knows nothing of the 


History of Germany 

latter. Thiis was it now, when a great hour had struck for the 
philosophico-historical sciences. 

Whilst the brothers Grimm were still engaged in indefinite 
speculations r^arding the conmion origin of the European 
tongues, Franz Bopp of Mainz, working quite independentiy, had 
already laid the foundations of the new science of comparative 
linguistics. For many years Wilhelm Humboldt had lived in 
the behef that the philosophy of language and the philosophy 
of history must mingle in the profoimdest depths of humanity. 
How often in his letters to Schiller had he declared that 
language is a living organism intimately associated with the 
personaUty of the speaker. He had long known that the 
pecuUar character of indi\adual languages may be chiefly recog- 
nised in their grammatical structure ; it was only the burdens 
of his diplomatic career which had prevented his following up 
these ideas. Influenced by similar intimations, young Bopp had 
early acquired a knowledge of the classic tongues and of most 
of the languages of modem Eurc^ ; he hoped to discover a 
hidden harmony in the linguistic treasury of our race. The first 
thing was to establish beyond dispute the genealogical relation- 
ship of several languages, and this could be done only by means 
of the precise examination of a very ancient language which 
had preserved the character of the lost primitive tongue in a 
condition of comparative piuity, so that in case of need it 
might itself be utilised in place of the primitive tongue. 

Bopp therefore resolved to start from Sanscrit, for the high 
antiquity of Indian hterature was indisputable, and since the 
pubhcation of Friedrich Schlegel's brilUant amateur work Die 
Weisheit der Inder, the kinship of Sanscrit with the Persian, the 
classical, and the Teutonic languages had generally been assumed, 
though proof was still lacking. In 1816 appeared Bopp's 
booklet upon the verbal conjugations of Sanscrit. In a detailed 
consideration of the grammatical structure of this oldest of 
hngoages, it was sho\\ii how the future was formed by the 
combination of an auxiliary verb with a root syllable, and so on, 
and the author went on to show incontrovertibly the essential 
identity of the forms and roots of the verb sein in Sanscrit 
and in the ancient Teutonic tongues. The fortunate discoverer 
reco^^nised in the Gothic language the Unk between the Old 
Indian and the German : " When I read the Venerable Ulfilas 
I fonded that I had Sanscrit before my eyes." Thus was the 
ball set rolling, for in questions of this nature it is the first 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

blow which is decisive. A definite starting-jx)int had now been 
won for the dehmitation of the boundaries of the Indo-Germanic 
group of languages, for the ascertainment of the closer or more 
distant relationships between each individual member of this 
group and its oldest sister, and hence for the establishment of 
the genealogical tree of the nations themselves. Thus in the 
circle of the historical sciences comparative linguistics gradually 
came to occupy a similar position to that acquired by comparative 
anatomy among the natural sciences. The next step was to 
subject other families of language to comparative study, and to 
reduce words to their simplest elements ; in this way an ascent 
might be made to the great problem of the origin of language 
itself, and an approach to those limits which the wisdom of 
nature has imposed upon all human enquiry. 

In the philology of the classical languages a freer life became 
awakened as early as the year 1795. Shortly before, in his 
Prolegomena ad Honierum, Friedrich August Wolf showed that 
the Homeric poems had arisen out of rhapsodies, works of 
popular poesy which had been handed down and developed 
during the centuries. Goethe rejoiced, sa5dng that the Homeric 
light was rising with renewed vigour. But Wolf's permanent 
significance was found, less in this particular hypothesis (which 
still left much in obscurity, and subsequently gave rise to 
numerous tasteless aberrations of an over-refined and over- 
learned acumen), than in his completely new views regarding 
the nature and aims of philology. He rescued classical Utera- 
ture from the hands of the aesthetes, and transferred it to the 
domain of historical criticism ; he demanded of philology that 
it should become enlarged to constitute the science of antiquity, 
that it should endeavour in all directions to render vividly 

^realisable the entire Ufe of the classical world. Language and 
literature were to be conceived as no more than isolated mani- 
festations of this general Ufe. In his masterly lectures at Halle, 

^Wolf showed how this problem was to be solved. 

Among the younger men who adopted this historical concep- 
ion, August Boeckh of Carlsruhe, the universally loved and 
)utspoken teacher of the students at BerUn, occupied the first 
>lace. In the Bacchanalia of the romanticists of Heidelberg 
le had not lost his thorough-going dihgence, but had merely 
enlarged his outlook and develof>ed his understanding for all 

''that is human. For many years he had been occupied with 
the design of presenting in a comprehensive work, HeUen, the 


History of Germany 

unity of Greek life in all its manifestations. Unfortunately 
this grandly conceived structure never attained completion. 
A fragment merely was published in the year 1817, Die Staats- 
haushaltung der Athener, the first successful attempt to compre- 
hend Greek history (following Niebuhr's example in respect of 
the history of Rome) as life that had been actually lived. His- 
torians rejoiced when from forgotten and overlooked sources the 
compUcated activities of Attic home Ufe and political economy 
were displayed in their intimate interconnection ; but the 
economists did not yet understand how to derive advantage 
from the inductive methods of the talented philologian. Among 
all the historical sciences, political economy had remained 
the most backward. It still reposed upon the misunderstood 
theories of Adam Smith, and still fancied that, after the manner 
of the doctrine of natural rights, it could harness the historic 
life of the nations in the yoke of eternally valid abstract rules. 

A similar relationship to that occupied by Lachmann to 
Jacob Grimm, was occupied towards Boeckh's circumstantial 
historical tendency by the school of formal classical philology, 
which maintained a fruitful centre of cultivation for nearly half 
a century at Leipzig in Gottfried Hermann's Griechische Gesell- 
schaft. Here flourished grammatical study, prosody, and 
strictly methodical textual criticism. In their distinguished 
teacher was found a union of everything characteristic of the 
old Upper Saxon learning : thorough knowledge and penetrating 
acuteness, unflagging diligence and urbane tolerance, but also a 
jejune rationalism which refused on principle to recognise the 
enigmatical night-side of historic Hfe. Both schools had learned 
from Wolf and had much in common ; Immanuel Bekker of 
Berlin had also grown up under the eyes of Wolf, Bekker, the 
taciturn master of criticism, who ably revised the text of so 
many of the Greek classics without troubling himself to offer 

Independently of both these tendencies, the high-romantic 
school of the symbolists, led by Friedrich Creuzer, pursued its 
strange career. Creuzer's lively imagination was from the first 
strongly attracted towards the world of the supersensual and the 
mysterious. At the beginning of the seventeen-eightics, long 
before the rise of romanticism, this born romanticist was filled 
with enthusiasm at his home in Marburg when contemplating 
the lofty Gothic pillars of the Elisabetlikirchc ; he formed a 
friendship with Novalis, with Gorres, with the Heidelberg circle 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

of poets, but also with Savigny and Boeckh, and advanced into 
the dream-world of natural philosophy farther than any of the 
professional experts. Like Schelling, he prided himself upon 
the inborn miraculous gift of "immediate intuition," which can 
neither be taught nor learned. This faculty, he imagined, 
would enable him to discover that natural speech which mani- 
fests itself among all nations in mysterious religious symbols, 
and he fancied that this would reveal a bond of unity between 
the myths of all ages. His s3miboUsm offered numerous 
brilliant hints for subsequent investigators ; even the theologians 
owed him thanks, for he showed them the importance of the 
forgotten neo-Platonists. He was the first to disclose what a 
world of misery and horror was concealed beneath the beautiful 
myths of antiquity ; and he immersed himself with such zeal 
in these sinister mysteries that Httle was left to him of the clear 
joy of hfe which was the dominant characteristic of the Greek 
national faith. He also was the first to detect the vestiges of 
ancient oriental priestly wisdom in the beginnings of Hellenic 
culture ; but his airy bridge between the east and the west was 
constructed before the soil for its foundation on either shore had 
been adequately explored. Notwithstanding the wealth of his 
learning, the brilliant enthusiast never attained secure results, 
because he always approached historical facts with a preconceived 
opinion ; he loved especially to dwell upon the Pelasgians and 
other unknown primitive peoples, for here the briUiant caprices 
of "immediate intuition" found free play. 

The mysticism of his doctrine aroused the hostility of the 
enlightened world. First of all, Gottfried Hermann attacked 
Creuzer's Symbolik with his customary dignified calm ; next, 
old Johann Heinrich Voss rushed into the fray, his fierce battle- 
cry sounding like a voice from the tomb. How wonderfully 
swift had been the life of this generation ; how remote now 
seemed the day when Voss's translation of Homer had been 
justly celebrated as a pioneer work ! All the new ideas which 
had since then been given forth by German genius, had passed 
over the hard-shelled old rationalist without leaving a trace. 
His culture was still rooted in the Wolffian philosophy, which 
imagined that the world-all could be comprehended through the 
principle of sufficient reason. He had already entered the Usts 
against Herder and Wolf ; Kant himself was not immune from 
attack, for the philosopher of Konigsberg had admitted a justi- 
fication for intuitive beUef, and considered that the scientific 



History of Germany 

explanation of the world in the end explained nothing. Now, 
in Heidelberg, in the world of the romanticist enthusiasts, this 
prosaic reason seemed to have been betrayed and sold. All 
the talk about the unconsciously creating energies of the popular 
spirit was to Voss empty fantasy ; and who was to speak to 
him of dogmas and symbols, when it had been proved that 
morality alone contains the nucleus of all religions ? He was 
convinced that Germany was threatened by a great conspiracy 
of priests and junkers, that the two red-headed rascals, Gorres 
and Creuzer, desired to lead Luther's children back to Rome. 
All who boasted the name of enlightened and liberal shouted in 
joyful chorus when the angry man launched his rough polemics 
against the symboUsts. It was Voss who first accustomed the 
liberals to the hateful tone of a terrorism of opinion, which 
behind an opponent's views sought always for evidence of base 
designs. In this dispute, right and wrong seemed as strangely 
mingled as in the simultaneous struggles of the political parties. 
Whilst Voss and Hermann could boast of clearness and definite- 
ness, Creuzer unquestionably displayed more genius ; whilst the 
two former proved themselves keener critics, the latter manifested 
an incomparably profounder understanding of religion, of the 
hidden emotional Ufe of the nations. Upon many of the paths 
along which the symboUsts first hastened with fantastic 
leaps, the better equipped science of to-day is now advancing 
with steady stride. 

Thus the philologists wrangled one with another, hardly 
noticing the growth of an enemy common to them all, the 
mercantile spirit of the business world. Since the exclusively 
classical education given in the gymnasia was no longer adequate 
to the growing needs of economic life, after the war a demand 
for reform speedily arose. To the fanatics of utilitarianism that 
only seemed worthy of study which was immediately utilisable 
in business and conversation ; the modem preference for super- 
ficial polymathy and the " enlightened " hatred of tradition, 
played their part. In Baden, a demand for the restriction of 
classical education soon became one of the principal items of the 
liberal party-programme. In Prussia, Schon was the zealous 
advocate of this movement, which threatened the very founda- 
tions of German culture, and which was not to undergo mitiga- 
tion for many years to come. 

The fertility of the new generation of men of learning 
seemed inexhaustible Almost at the very moment when the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

historical doctrine of law, historical grammar, and comparative 
linguistics, came into existence, Karl Ritter created the science 
of comparative geography. Notwithstanding the great dis- 
coveries of the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, geography 
had hitherto been nothing more than an abundant collection of 
statistical, historical, and physical items, lacking all internal 
unity. No one asked any longer what Strabo could have meant 
when he demanded for geography a philosophical treatment, and 
when he expressed esteem for "multiform Europe " in comjxari- 
son with the simpler coast line of Asia. Not until these days of 
a growing historical sense did the insight also awaken that the 
earth is the school of humanity and the theatre of human 
activities, and that the first aim of geographical science is to 
learn how the configuration of the globe has exercised a deter- 
minative influence upon human history. When Ritter, in the 
year 1817, expounded these new ideas in the first volume of his 
comparative geography, he raised geography to the rank of an 
independent science. There was at work in him the same 
impulse towards the recognition of the determinism of historic 
life which finds expression in the works of Savigny and Bopp ; 
and like both these writers he frequently referred to the example 
of comparative anatomy. The forms of the earth became 
animated under his eyes as did word-forms to Jacob Grimm. 
In the different continents he saw the great individuals of the 
earth ; and he taught that every country represents a moral 
energy, supervises the education of its inhabitants, Uves out 
its necessary history. With enormous diligence, he brought 
together everything which natural philosophers, travellers, and 
historians had ever reported about lands and peoples, in order 
to display, first as regards Asia, the eternal mutual interaction 
[of nature and history. If his work were ever to attain to its 
joal (and when an old man he continued to speak of geography 
[in modest terms as a youthful science), the entire evolution of 
[humanity would be represented as a locally conditioned natural 
[phenomenon. Men of weaker intelligence engaged in so difficult 
path could readily have been misled into a materialistic con- 
iption of history, but Ritter was not exposed to this tempta- 
tion. As a grown man he remained at heart .the simple and 
)ious child who formerly at Schnepfenthal had sat at the feet of 
[the good Salzmann. It was not bUnd natural laws, but the will 
lof the living God, which he hoped to reveal by his researches ; 
[9. sacred feeling of devotion overpowered him whenever he had 


History of Germany 

an intimation of the profound significance of this sublime 
undertaking, and he frequently spoke of his book as his " hjnnn 
of thanksgiving to the Lord." 

Few sciences are so intimately connected as geography with 
the power and the wealth of the nations. In the dawn of 
history this science follows always in the footsteps of the con- 
queror and the venturesome trader ; and even in more civilised 
times the geographer is dependent on royal patronage. To the 
Germans alone has it been possible on two separate occasions to 
acquire a leading position in geographical science by the unaided 
force of genius. When the Spaniards and the Portuguese were 
dividing the domain of the two Indies and the old commercial 
greatness of Germany collapsed, Copernicus came to take equal 
rank with Columbus. How many circumnavigators and dis- 
coverers had since then secured free-handed support from the 
state-authorities of England, France, and even Russia. In 
Germany, the land vdthout colonies and almost without inter- 
national trade, nothing of the kind happened. The nation and 
its governments hardly looked beyond the poor limits of their 
quiet home-life. Alexander von Humboldt and Leopold von 
Buch had to undertake their bold journeys at their own expense. 
When Adalbert von Chamisso returned in those days from his 
voyage round the world, and at the sight of the lighthouse of 
Swinemund was moved to the depths of his soul, feeUng he had 
become a German, and that here his beloved home was welcom- 
ing him, it was the Russian and not the Prussian flag which 
waved over his head. Yet it was a son of this inland nation 
who now rebuilt the foundations of geographical science ; seldom 
indeed has German ideaUsm secured a more astonishing success. 

Hitherto in the historical sciences Germany had moved far in 
advance of the neighbour nations, but natural science lagged 
corrcsp)ondingly far in the rear of the achievements of the 
French and the English. For a long time after this date Paris 
was with justice regarded as the home of the exact sciences. 
It is true that a few men of leading intelligence, influenced by 
the teeming poetic and philosophic culture of the previous 
generation, were enabled to recognise the highest aims of nature- 
study, to grasp nature as a unity, as a cosmos. In his Meta- 
morphosis of Plants, Goethe had given a concrete demonstration 
that the idea can permeate and illuminate natural phenomena 
without arbitrarily distorting them. Alexander Humboldt 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

always gratefully acknowledged that through Goethe he was first 
equipped with new organs for the understanding of nature ; it 
was only because he had once drunk deep draughts at the 
source which flowed from Jena and Weimar that he was able 
to display such an astonishing many-sidedness in his researches 
in natural science, Ritter, too, would never in the absence 
of natural philosophy have arrived at the idea of uniting in his 
geography all the branches of historical and jx)sitive research 
in a joint creative work. But to the mass of those who were 
less highly endowed, the venturesomeness of philosophy proved 

Not in vain had Schelling uttered the bold saying that since 
the nature of light had been understood, Newton's purely empirical 
theory of colour had become obsolete. Not in vain had the 
volatile Hendrik Steffens, still more audaciously, demanded that 
nature-study should rise to the level of speculation, and in all 
sensuous experience should recognise straightway nothing but 
the spiritual. Every young puppy in whose head a new idea 
was fermenting now considered himself justified in putting the 
world to rights in accordance with some preconceived plan; 
Lorenz Oken was only in the fourth term of his medical studies 
when he published his Grundriss der Naturphilosophie. Respect 
for reahty was lost, the chemist must not dirty his hands, the 
physicist scorned to test the data of " apperception " by experi- 
ment. Confused images replaced clear conceptions. In the 
tones of the prophet, SchelUng spoke of the two principles of 
darkness and light, whose pivot is fire. The diamond was a 
flint become conscious ; forests were the hair of the earth- 
beast ; and at the equator was displayed the swollen belly of 
nature. It is true that amid these saturnalia the good 
)ken continued to preserve his delight in observation and com- 
irison, and that he enriched science by thorough investigations 
ito the developmental history of mammals ; but many a fine 
^alent succumbed completely amid the play of these extravagant 
mcies. How much of his youthful energy had young Justus 
Aehig to waste before he at length mastered his romanticist 
)ride and made up his mind to approach the world of reality 
rankly as an ignoramus. 

Natural philosophy saw in nature, unconscious spirit ; in 
the forces of nature, the organs of obscure powers of the will ; 
md endeavoured therefore to demonstrate everywhere the 
mtual interplay of conscious and unconscious life. Here, in 


History of Germany 

the enigmatic borderland of natural science, natural philosophy 
came into contact with the religious enthusiasm of the time, and 
with the esoteric doctrines of those thaumaturges and swindlers who 
since the days of Swedenborg had throughout the eighteenth 
century busily pursued their activities at the courts. Down to 
the year 1815 old Mesmer still lived in Switzerland, the wonder- 
worker whose doctrines Lavater had once diffused through the 
circles of the awakened. He knew the secret natural energy of 
the magnetic universal fluid, the veritable vital principle, which 
was to cure all diseases and even to prevent their occurrence. 
Wohlfahrt now brought into renewed circulation this half for- 
gotten " evangel of nature." Everywhere appeared sleepwalking 
women and magnetic healers ; ever5rwhere in the drawing-rooms 
of the fashionable world esctatic gentlemen and ladies formed a 
magnetic chain. Hufeland and several other physicians of note 
were friendly towards the new revelation, but the fashion of the 
day stormed blindly over and beyond these moderates. 

The grain of truth which the doctrines of animal magnetism 
concealed soon disappeared in the turbid slime of vulgar 
superstition. A morbid impulse towards the unsearchable led 
the science astray before it had really made itself at home 
in the searchable ; fantastical books disclosed the secret of 
" vital force," which was regarded as a specific substance. 
Gall's doctrine of the skull also regained numerous supporters, 
especially now that the court natural philosopher Cams knew 
how to advocate it in the fashionable world. When young 
officers entered the military academy of Berlin, General 
Miifiling regularly had their heads examined by a phrenologist 
in order to discover their special talents. If a portrait painter 
became fashionable, he ornamented his figures with unnaturally 
high foreheads, in token of genius. An English admirer once 
sent Goethe a bust whose head strongly suggested water on 
the brain ; it seemed to the poet as if the sculptor, from a 
study of the principles of the doctrine of the skull, had had 
an infallible a priori knowledge what the prince of poetry 
looked like. Men of all parties became immersed in this dream- 
life. The clever Jewish physician Koreff lured the aging 
Prussian chancellor into the labyrinth of mesmerism ; and 
Wangenheim, too, the leader of the liberals in the Bundestag, 
was one of the high priests of natural philospohy. Rationalism 
predominated, however, in the liberal world ; the faith in 
wonders found most of its disciples in the ranks of the conserv- 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

ative parties. In France also the two most zealous apostles 
of somnambulism, Bergosse and Puysegur were numbered among 
the hotspurs of legitimacy. The academic teaching bodies 
could never completely overcome their mistrust of the fantastic 
< aprices of the natural philosophers : the university of Berlin 
obstinately refused an appointment to the talented enthusiast 
Steffens ; and for the first time a serious dispute broke out 
between the state authority and the young university when 
Hardenberg despotically appointed his favourites Koreff and 
Wohlfahrt as ordinary professors. Quite undisturbed, meanwhile, 
about the approval of the great world, Heinrich Schubert 
pursued his modest way, the most lovable and most guileless 
of the students of natural philosophy, traditionally pious, 
as was the custom at home in the parsonage in the Erzgebirge, 
a worthy example of Christian love and tolerance. When in 
his thoughtful and amiable manner he wrote about the 
Symbolism of Dreams and the Night-side of Nature, the pious 
were greatly edified. 

The figure of Alexander von Humboldt rose like a moun- 
tain peak out of the fog-laden sea of romanticist natural science, 
a peak already illuminated by the sunshine of a new day. 
When still quite young, pressmg forward far in advance of his 
time, he had spontaneously moved from the aesthetic to the 
scientific view of the universe. The genuine precision of 
inductive research, which the natural sciences had altogether 
lost, and which was first regained by historians through the 
work of Savigny and Niebuhr, was in Humboldt's blood. So 
strong was his tendency towards objective knowledge that 
from the first to him facts alone were vahd. He sharply 
distinguished that which had been proved from that which was 
lerely hypothetical, and nothing distressed him more pro- 
foundly than the arrogance of the speculator who will never 
admit ignorance, who will never modestly leave a phenomenon 
unexplained. Consequently in the circles of the aesthetic 
idealists, where reality was despised as a burdensome restriction 
imposed upon the free spirit, he appeared at first like a stranger 
from another world. Schiller regarded the brother of his 
beloved Wilhelm as a mere collector, and complained that this 
naked, incisive intelligence, utterly devoid of imaginative power, 
shamelessly supposed itself to have taken the measure of nature. 
Since that time the Germans had long recognised what a 
power of imagination animated this genius of empirical science. 

321 Y 


History of Germany 

Alexander Humboldt was not indeed capable of masterly predic- 
tion of the course of research, but his mind was one which 
could combine thousands of carefully investigated details to 
constitute a living unity, so that with fraternal pride Wilhelm 
Humboldt exclaimed to his younger brother : " From that 
which you have so briUiantly observed, you weave a magnifi- 
cent girdle encompassing the world-all ! " Moreover, Alexander 
Himiboldt stood far nearer to Wilhelm' s idealism than Schiller 
had believed, for the younger, hke the elder, found the only 
genuine content of universal history in the evolution of the 
human spirit, the ^ sole ^difference being that, in Alexander's 
estimation, contemplation, construction, and imaginative repro- 
duction were of less importance than research. Alexander, too, 
like Wilhelm, could / boast of "a free spirit, f never restricted 
by the present," a ^spirit which ever worked on great hues, 
and which amid the laborious investigation of details^ never 
lost sight of the whole. " He really endeavours," said Wilhelm 
Humboldt of his brother, " to comprehend aU solely in order to 
search out one thing which is accessible only from all sides 
at once." Knowledge seemed to him the highest of all goods ; 
all the energies of his soul were dominated, absorbed, as it 
were, by the one comprehensive impulse for knowledge. Neither 
love nor any other strong personal passion ever disturbed his 
investigations ; he never chose anyone for a friend who could 
not collaborate with him in the great work of his hfe. 

Thus the fine and intimate relationship between the brothers 
remained rather a community of spirits than a league of hearts. 
Their mutual confidence increased with the years, in proportion 
as Wilhelm passed from his aesthetic labours to the study of 
comparative philology, and thus approximated to his brother's 
circle of ideas. In the friendly aUiance between the two, the 
idea of the universitas literarum gained flesh and blood ; this 
alliance displayed to the world the indestructible unity of the 
exact and the historical sciences, of the enmity between which 
petty minds are accustomed to prate. Alexander could not 
probe so deeply into the hidden abysses of the spiritual Hfe as 
could the weightier and more strongly equipped genius of Wilhelm, 
nor could the younger brother cUmb so boldly to the heights 
of speculation as could the elder, whilst pure mathematics were 
remote from the direction of Alexander's mind. On the other 
hand he excelled his brother and all his contemporaries in the 
wonderful mobility and receptivity of a restless intelligence, 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

which was able to adopt and assimilate everything which men 
had ever studied and thought. s^ .^ ^ 

In Alexander Humboldt the cosmopoUtan tendency of the 
German spirit found fuller expression than ever before except 
in the case of Leibnitz. He regarded it as his vocation to 
store up and to master the entire intellectual content of the 
epoch, to serve all nations as an intermediator of modem 
culture, as a teacher of humanity. No one understood so 
perfectly how to discover and encourage men of talent. With 
unwearied and amiable zeal he gave to all out ot the abundance 
of his ever Uving and ever ready knowledge. Goethe compared 
him to a fountain with many jets, under any one of which a 
vessel may be held to secure an immediate, fresh, and inex- 
haustible supply. Even the weaknesses of character which he 
shared with Leibnitz were advantageous to his vocation as 
intermediator. When hke a supple courtier he agreed with 
everyone, overwhelming all without distinction with a flood of 
adulation, he unceasingly acquired thereby new well-wishers 
and assistants for the cause of universal culture, which could 
thrive only through the work of all. When he enjoyed and 
fostered his own world-wide reputation with unconcealed vanity, 
his brilliant name served him as a means to direct the attention 
of the great ones of the earth to the value of the innumerable 
scientific undertakings he supported with cordial advocacy. In 
case of need he intervened on behalf of the threatened free- 
dom of research far more courageously than had Leibnitz, 
and whilst the whole world paid him homage, at heart he 
always remained a German. No one knew better than he the 
defects of our young civiUsation, our poverty and pettiness, and he 
watched with quiet joy how step by step the Germans approximated 
more closely to the older civilisation of the neighbour peoples. 

Like all great travellers he began in early childhood to 
yearn for the immeasurably remote. When in the palm-house 
at Potsdam he looked up at the magnificent expanse of fans, 
the wonder-world of the tropics rose alluringly before his vision. 
The boy's dreams were gloriously fulfilled by the man. Accom- 
panied by his faithful comrade Bonpland, he wandered during 
five rich years through the interior of South and Central 
America ; the friends chmbed Chimborazo, and passed many 
months, cut off from the world, in the untrodden primavaJ 
forest of the Orinoco. When Humboldt returned, he was the 
one and only German who in those Napoleonic days acquired 


History of Germany 

the undivided admiration of the foreign world. Even among 
the French conquerors his reputation maintained the honour of 
the German name ; Bonpland's fellow countrymen could find 
no higher praise for their compatriot than to describe him as 
the collaborator of the German investigator. Humboldt now 
settled in Paris, where intercourse with Laplace, Arago, Cuvier, 
and Gay-Lussac offered him a fruitful exchange of ideas, such 
as a student of nature could as yet find nowhere in Germany. 
All thronged round the bewitching conversationist, when he 
appeared in the salon at the close of a laborious day, and when 
by brilliant observations, anecdotes of travel, novelties of the 
day, and mischievous jokes, he entertained the company far 
into the night. 

His repute rose still higher when intercourse between France 
and Germany revived after the war. He was now regarded by 
the Parisians as the natural representative of German science ; 
on the Seine all his fellow countrymen sought his protection, and 
his favourable word was often of more account than that of the 
official diplomats. In twenty-nine great volumes he gradually 
communicated to the world the results of his American travels. 
The record of his journey was an unrivalled specimen of strictly 
scientific descriptive work. Here were first demonstrated the 
geognostic differences between the two hemispheres ; here first 
was taught the drawing of geographical sections displaying 
elevation, and how to determine the mean altitude of continents, 
the astonished readers being shown how trifling is the elevation 
of the mountains in comparison with the general elevation of the 
mainland. Humboldt founded the science of the geography of 
plants, and by the recognition of isotherms (1817) he opened the 
road for the new science of meteorology. In discovery and 
inventive genius Humboldt was rivalled by some of his Parisian 
friends, but not one of them could command so wide an outlook. 
The same man who astonished experts by the detailed pre- 
cision of his barometrical observations of altitude, was the 
first to give historians an insight into the civilisation of the 
American aborigines, and also a clear picture of Spanish colonial 
policy ; and, like Boeckh, he put the political economists to shame 
by a masterpiece of comparative statistics, his investigations 
into the available supply of the precious metals. To Humboldt's 
example and personal instruction, Hitter, too, owed his first 
intimations regarding the true task of geography. 

Like Humboldt, his fellow countryman Leopold von Buch 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

had amid the philosophical intoxication of the time retained 
desire and energy for the observation of reality. He also was 
an aristocrat, preserved by great wealth from the pettiness of 
the life of German learning, but was of an utterly different 
disposition from the brilUant conversationist of the Parisian 
salons — an untutored genius, candid, solid, blunt, a plain-spoken 
junker of the Mark. The vigorous pedestrian was at home in 
all the mountainous corners of Europe from Lapland to the 
Abruzzi ; the minute ramifications of the mountains along the 
much indented fiord of Christiania stood up as clearly before his 
eyes as the modest sand-hills of his native Flaming. Through 
his work and that of Humboldt geology was completely trans- 
formed : they refuted the Neptunian theory of their common 
teacher Werner, and proved the Plutonic origin of the highest 
mountains. Goethe was distressed to see how his beloved 
" realm of Poseidon " was thus demoHshed by the " mad 
inrush " of Plutonism. The poet's love of earth was rooted in 
his emotions. High as he stood above the fantastic imaginings 
of the great mass of natural philosophers, it was his poetical 
view of the universe which impelled him to the study of nature. 
Not wholly without preconceptions did he approach geology and 
the theory of colour, and however faithfully he observed every 
natural phenomenon, ultimately he could accept nothing as 
proved which conflicted with the fundamental conceptions of his 
imperturbable wisdom of life. The Plutonic theory seemed to 
him sinister, for he felt that the vesture of earth must have 
been slowly formed, without any sudden cataclysms, out of the 
moisture of Hfe. 

If German nature-study could but succeed in restraining 
philosophy within its proper bounds, it might well hope to over- 
take the science of the neighbour nations. There was now no 
lack of men of talent. Meckel of Halle had in comparative 
anatomy now advanced far beyond Cuvier; Soemmering of 
Munich had as early as 1810 maintained the possibility of the 
electric telegraph ; whilst in Gottingen the mathematician Gauss 
was already at work — despising the drudgery of teaching, 
completely immersed in the ultimate problems of pure theory, 
one to whom even Humboldt looked up with profound respect, a 
man of all time, one of those thinkers whose work first secures 
full appreciation in the life of subsequent generations. He knew 
that mathematics was the queen of the sciences and that his 
theory of numbers was the queen of mathematics, 


History of Germany 

When in those days Hegel gave utterance to the saying that 
philosophy brings forth ideas suited to the epoch, he had 
at any rate rightly understood the character of his own time. 
The powerful influence of the ideas of Schelling is displayed in 
almost all the intellectual work of his day, alike in the fantastic 
aberrations of natural science and in the fruitful discoveries 
of the historian. His philosophical doctrines continued to 
dominate German thought until in the twenties they were 
dethroned by Hegel's system ; even the pecuUarly dignified 
demeanour of this generation of learned men recalls the example 
of the proud philosopher who so masterfully expelled the profane 
from the threshold of the temple. In fact for the thinkers' 
pride of the Germans it was hardly possible to furnish greater 
satisfaction than was furnished by the teaching of this ever 
impressionable spirit who maintained the identity of the real 
and of the ideal, explaining nature as spirit made visible, and 
spirit as nature invisible. The great problem of German philo- 
sophy seemed to have been solved, the identity of being and 
thinking to have been finally established. Fichte had seen in 
nature no more than the stage for the ego, without elucidating 
nature's independent life ; Schelling undertook to show the 
twofold revelation of God in the concurrent spheres of nature 
and history. In this way everything that was and is to be 
became to him a living unity ; in the endless succession of 
phenomena, the divine self-consciousness was unfolded. " From 
the first wrestling of obscure forces down to the outpouring of 
the highest juices of Ufe there is at work an energy, a mutual 
interplay, an unceasing impulse towards higher life." When 
compared with Fichte's one-sided idealism, this all-embracing 
system seemed to exhibit the same magnificent superiority as 
did the figure of Goethe beside that of Schiller — so long as the 
observer failed to notice that the great edifice of thought was 
not based on any secure foundation of proof, but reposed merely 
upon the bold assumptions of a brilliant intelligence. ''■;??'' i>' 

With Schelling began that morbid insolence of speculation 
which was subsequently carried to a climax by Hegel, and 
which was to become extremely deleterious to the austerity of 
our science and even to the probity of Jour nation. Rejoicing 
in its brilliant success, philosophy soon 'overstepped the secure 
boundaries which the Kantian criticism had established. 
Scorning to restrict itself to thej province of enquiry and 
examination, not content, as the love of wisdom, to occupy the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

domain allotted to it by the ancients, philosophy now main- 
tained itself to be one with its own object, with primal know- 
ledge, to be one with morality, one even with poesy, from 
which it had sprung, and to which it would ultimately return. 
Whoever had attained to this lofty conception of the universe 
no'^ longer needed those proofs which the men of atomistic 
learning had laboriously excavated from the mine-shafts of the 
empirical world ; from the contemplation of this conception he 
gained energy for the direct creation of nature, for the animation 
of its mechanism with freedom. 

During his stay in Jena, ScheUing had for a long time 
devoted himself entirely to the development of his system of 
natural philosophy. It was not until in the year 1803 he 
delivered his brilliant lectures upon The Method of Academic 
Study, that he turned to consider the second revelation of God, 
the world of history. A happy instinct held him in harmony 
with the general movement of the time. He now recognised 
" that religion, the public belief, life in the state, is the point 
round which everything moves " ; and subsequently, in Wiirz- 
burg, Erlangen, and Munich, he worked at the foundation of his 
" historical philosophy." ^Natural philosophy was henceforward 
left to his 'pupils, and soon ^degenerated completely into 
mystical and magical -trifling. fEnnemoser, the thaumaturge, 
foresaw the speedy coming of the day when the priests, the 
fortunate and exclusive possessors of the magnetic art of 
healing, would once more rule the people body and soul. The 
master himself, however, entering the historic world, attained to 
the most fertile and soundest idea of his life ; to his artist 
spirit there truly came moments of illumination in which the 
nature of things became directly manifest to his eyes. 

From the contemplation of the eternal development of 
historic life he derived with definite assurance that of which 
Herder had had no more than a shadowy intimation, the 
knowledge that law and reUgion are to be understood as mani- 
festations of the world-constructive intelligence, and therefore 
as necessary growths. The completed world of history was found 
by him in the state, the great work of art which, Ufted high 
above the individual will, was an end in itself, realising the 
harmony of necessity and|freedom in the external life of reality. 
Many valuable sajdngs enable us to recognise how profoundly he 
had entered into ^the inner life of history. To his century, 
proud of its culture, he uttered the warning : "An enlightened 


History of Germany 

nation for which thought has become a universal solvent, when 
getting rid of obscurity foregoes also strength, and loses that 
barbaric principle which is the basis of all greatness and beauty." 
But his philosophy of history was never completed. The early 
acquirement of fame had in youth frequently misled him into 
hasty production, and now that he had attained to maturity 
this inclined him to a cautious silence. His proud spirit could 
satisfy itself and a wondering world in no other way than by 
the production of a perfect work. Again and again, amid the 
scornful cries of his hberal opponents, he exclaimed, " No\V 
will be seen what I have to say"; again and again was his 
great work upon the epoch announced but it was never 
completed. For in the long run the hard facts of history were 
uncongenial to his restless imagination. Of all the epochs in 
world-history that of " the future," which gives such free scope 
for foreshadowing and prophecy, attracted him far more power- 
fully than did the world of actual history. More than all, he 
loved to devote himself to the contemplation of " the primaeval 
age," describing, in sharp contrast to the absolute faith in 
progress displayed by the apostles of " enlightenment," how in 
that epoch of primitive innocence fortunate mankind had 
absorbed the secrets of religion from the instruction of lofty 
spirits. Before long the inconstant man thrust history aside to 
lose himself in the theosophical problems of the philosophy of 
revelation. His ideas upon the history of philosophy lived on, 
however, in the works of Savigny, Ritter, and Creuzer. 

Schelling, even when his fancy roamed into the infinite, 
could never completely repudiate the mentaUty of the Swabian 
Protestant. In the " Christian philosophy " of the Bavarian 
Franz Baader, on the other hand, was revived all the bondage 
of mediaeval scholasticism. The briUiant eccentric accepted 
Catholic dogma as at once the precondition and the goal of his 
thought, and yet attacked the papacy and the Jesuits just as 
passionately as he attacked Uberalism, the enlightenment, and 
the omnipotence of the state ; he considered that he had 
discovered the mystical triangle, the true Catholicism, in the 
union of the Roman, the Creek, and the Protestant churches. 
He thought out a dynamic philosophy which was to replace 
what he regarded as the mechanical systems of his predecessors. 
For the ethics of Kant, not based upon the teaching of the 
Saviour, and therefore ncapable of bringing salvation, he pro- 
poFcd to substitute a new system of ethics, based upon physics 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

and religion ; and although he refuted with apt phrases many of 
the aberrations of superficial liberal reasoning, he involved 
himself in such a tangle of magic ideas, that even Steffens, most 
enthusiastic and faithful of romanticists, found it impossible to 
accept the grotesque imaginings of the Munich mystagogue. 
Just as at one time he had incited Czar Alexander to found the 
Holy Alliance, so throughout Hfe he sought salvation for the 
nations in an obscure mingling of religious and political ideas ; 
his ideal of the state was " genuine theocracy." From Kant, 
most German of philosophers, romanticist extravagance turned 
away in alarm. In place of Kant, Jacob Boehme was once 
again honoured as the philosophus teutonicus, Boehme, the 
thoughtful theosophist enthusiast, who had long before preached 
to the disorderly generation of the Thirty Years' War his 
mystical " Everywhere canst thou see God ! " In the spring 
campaign of 1813, when Fouque's regiment was engaged in a 
skirmish near Landskrone, the romanticist poet exclaimed in 
ecstasy : " Here it would be sweet to die, in view of this 
sacred mountain upon whose summit God Almighty first appeared 
to the shoemaker of Gorlitz. 

Whither had they vanished, those days of the all-powerful 
enhghtenment, when the conflicting creeds seemed about to 
expire, when all ecclesiastical life seemed overgrown by temporal 
culture, and when the possible disappearance of Christianity was 
discussed with philosophic unconcern by its friends and its 
enemies alike ! The shattering experiences of the epoch of the 
Revolution had reawakened the rehgious sentiment slumbering in 
every nation ; but together with the living faith there 
reawakened hierarchical aims which had long been supposed 
extinct, and the gloomy passions of religious hatred, fanaticism, 
and superstition were revived. With each successive year, the 
new century proved to be in sharper contrast with its prede- 
cessor, to be an epoch of unending religious contentions, 
confused and riven asunder to a degree which had hardly 
been exceeded by any other century in religious history. 
It was rich in healthy spiritual hfe, but was no less rich in 
unbeUef, worldly-mindedness, indifference, and despair ; it was 
full of quiet yearning for a purer form of Christianity, and 
. yet was at the same time incompetent to effect a reconcilia- 
tion between the embittered religious and anti-religious 
parties, which were held within bounds only by the sense of 


History of Germany 

their own weakness and by the imperious need for repose in 
civic Kfe. Nowhere was the confusion of these reUgious contrasts 
so motley and multiform as in the homeland of the Reforma- 
tion, which had of old been used to treat questions of faith 
with serious earnestness, and to express conscientious convictions 
with perfect freedom. The German nation became divided into 
two camps of straightforward believers and straightforward free- 
thinkers ; in this country the number of deliberate hypocrites 
remained small. 

Since average culture invariably lags a few paces behind the 
advance of science, among the mass of Protestant pastors and 
among the cultured laity there still prevailed that easy-going 
philanthropic rationalism which, with a rigidly working intelli- 
gence, simply discarded from the realm of dogma everything 
that was " irrational," and which in its self-complacency failed 
to observe that in throwing away the husk it had also thrown 
away the kernel of the Christian faith, had thrown away even 
the profound doctrines of sin and redemption which had ever 
been dear to the Germanic temperament. It was through this 
doctrine of salvation that in former days Christianity had made 
its first appeal to the hearts of the Teutons, who alone among 
all the pagan peoples already believed in the coming rebirth of 
the sinful world. When Luther undertook the purification of 
the secularised Church, he started from the contrite recogni- 
tion of personal sin ; in what definite terms, too, had Kant 
spoken of the essential sinfulness of the human race. Ordinary 
rationalism now hardly remembered these fundamental ideas of 
Christianity, but cherished an ingenuous belief in the goodness 
of human nature, finding satisfaction in a mundane doctrine of 
salvation by works, salvation through bourgeois business honesty. 
Yet this rationalism was devoid alike of the courage and of the 
scientific energy requisite for advance along the steep path which 
had once been indicated by Lessing and the Wolfenhuttel Fragments, 
and for the assimilation of the critical methods of the new 
philological study of saga ; it did not venture a serious examina- 
tion of the historical origins of the New Testament, but took the 
Bible for granted, and contented itself with the reinterpretation 
of texts in such a way as to make them exhibit *a 'specious 
harmony with the laws of nature. '* 

The loudest and most intolerant representative of [this ten- 
dency was Paulus, professor at Heidelberg. Bom some years 
before Schelling, in the parsonage at Lconbcrg in Swabia, 



Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

Schelling's own birthplace, he was the deadly enemy of his 
countryman, and of all doctrines which in any way transcended 
plain reason. What a delight it was to him as a free-thinker 
to explain the Resurrection as the awakening from an apparent 
death, and the miracle of Cana as the successful practical joke 
of a frolicsome wedding guest. Many rationalistic teachers even 
called to their aid the esoteric doctrines of the natural philo- 
sophers, describing the Saviour as a physician with magnetic 
powers, for to minds of this order the natural miracle always 
seems more endurable than the supernatural. The old faith- 
inspired hymns alarmed their jejune faintheartedness ; these 
hymns were weakened by foolish modifications, or cut altogether 
out of the hymnal. How much more decent than the forceful 
" eternity, thou thunder-word " sounded the new and well-bred 
rationaUst hymn, " Death ends not all, this reasons prove ! " 
From the first the Protestant church had neglected ritual for 
doctrine. Under the dominion of rationalism, religious service 
lost everything which quickened the emotions and roused the 
imagination, and at the same time spiritual teaching sank to the 
level of mere secular instruction. The pulpit orators no longer 
understood how to fortify and uplift burdened consciences, how 
to provide consolation from the wealth of scriptural promise ; 
they devoted themselves to broad moral considerations, elucidat- 
ing what the rational Christian must think about individual 
dogmas, and did not even despise the use of consecrated buildings 
for giving well-meant advice on the cultivation of p)otatoes and 
the breeding of sheep. The churches were deserted, men of 
intelligence could no longer breathe in this thin atmosphere. 
The duty of caring for souls was neglected ; upon any trifling 
excuse the enlightened pastors and consistories would grant 
permission for divorce. The old supematuraKsm with its faith 
in revelation, which had flourished especially in Wiirtemberg 
under the leadership of the prelate Bengel, also became infected 
with the arid rationalism of the day. Both schools lived on 
terms of false peace with science, tacitly assuming the existence of 
a necessary harmony between faith and knowledge. Both con- 
tinued to move in a circle of ideas which the living forces of 
literature had long since abandoned. The barren dispute regard- 
ing the rationality of individual dogmas touched the externals 
only of religion, not its essence. 

Meanwhile Schleiermacher educated a new school of 
theologians who learned from the master how to keep pace 


History of Germany 

once more with the young scientific life of the nation. He had 
formerly uttered the rousing call which summoned the cultured 
despisers of religion back to the faith, and which lifted the con- 
sciousness of God into the world of feeling, above the domain 
of knowledge and activity. Now, furnishing a scientific equip- 
ment for this fruitful basic idea in numerous writings and in his 
masterly lectures at Berlin, he became the renovator of theology, 
the greatest of all our theologians since the century of the 
Reformation ; and even to-day no German theologian gains 
internal freedom unless he has first come to terms with the 
ideas of Schleiermacher. 

The secret of enduring spiritual eflaciency is found chiefly 
in the harmonious conjunction of apparently conflicting gifts, 
and rarely indeed has a creative mind been at once so multi- 
form and so harmoniously constructed as that of this Proteus 
who in three fundamentally diverse epochs, the aesthetic, the 
patriotic, and the scientific, faithfully reflected all the transforma- 
tions of BerUn life, and yet never sacrificed his own individuality. 
He received his first decisive impressions among the contemplative 
enthusiasts of the Hermhut Brotherhood, and to the end of his 
life he enjoyed the consciousness of personal communion with 
the Saviour ; but his religious fervour was kept within bounds 
by an incisive understanding which was master of all dialectic 
arts, and was prone to manifest itself in the form of sarcasm. 
At one time, when he wrote his Letters upon Schlegel's Lucinde, 
he had wandered far afield in the false sentimental enthusiasm of 
romanticism, but had none the less preserved a purity of heart 
which as the years passed gradually came to illumine his entire 
nature, and made the inconspicuous little man seem like a 
patriarch. The translator of Plato was at home in all the 
depths of speculation, and was consequently in a position to 
fight philosophy with its own weapons, as soon as it was auda- 
cious enough to substitute the derivative for the primary and to 
base its explanation of the world of sensation upon the world 
of concepts. Everything that is human he endeavoured to 
treat from the religious outlook, and to utilise on behalf of 
theology all the science of the age ; and yet he could not Hve 
without fulfilling the popular function of the preacher. Around 
his pulpit there continued to assemble the best society of Berlin, 
but his heartfelt oratory edified even the poor in spirit. How 
admirable did he seem to everyone when he personally delivered 
the funeral oration over the coffin of his little son Nathanael, 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

so profoundly afflicted concerning the fragment of his own Ufe 
which lay before him, and yet so strong in the consolation 
which alone consoles. Whoever read his profoundly moving letters 
to the good Gass, the Breslau theologian, or whoever saw him 
in personal intercourse with his numerous friends, so lovingly con- 
siderate of each one's peculiarities, could readily beheve that this 
impressionable nature demanded nothing more than the intimacies 
of private intercourse ; and yet Schleiermacher could not do 
full justice to his powers anywhere else than in public Ufe, and 
in the days of pohtical lassitude his sense of the state remained 
just as keen as it had been in the period of patriotic enthusiasm. 
His opponents, and those unfamiliar with his personaUty, cen- 
sured him for his chameleonic changes of colour, and yet when- 
ever it seemed to him that some sacred possession of the nation 
was in danger he showed himself a man true as steel, perfectly 
consistent in character, as with thoughtful candour he tranquilly 
took his place in the arena. 

The fundamental thought of the Reden iiber die Religion was 
closely akin with the ideas of the new historical science. If the 
roots of religion were to be sought in the emotional Ufe, it 
inevitably followed that the manifestations of the consciousness 
of God must be manifold. Consequently dogmas assumed the 
aspect of subjective emotional truths, of utterances of the pious 
emotional sensibility regarding its conceptions of God. Upon 
theology was imposed the new task of comprehending in their 
historical necessity these configurations of Christian sensibility. 
Theology was no longer to engage in a hateful polemic, contest- 
ing and condemning individual creeds of Christendom, but was 
to endeavour to understand them all as higher or lower forms 
of Christian self-consciousness — for Schleiermacher also after his 
own manner, and independently of Schelling and Savigny, had 
acquired an understanding of historical development, and had 
drawn a sharp distinction between that which had come into 
existence through human nature, and that which man himself 
had made. 

Therewith he effected in the domain of theology a similar 
rectification of frontiers to that which Kant had once effected 
in the domain of philosophy ; he secured for theology a ground 
upon which it could acquire no less incontestable scientific 
; results than were acquired by all the other historical discipUnes. 
* He conceived Christian freedom in a spirit as wide as that 
exhibited by Luther in his first writings, for he held that the 

History of Germany 

living consciousness of God had nothing to fear from free historical 
and philosophical research. Christian sentiment was to him 
nothing else than humanity in full perfection, and it was there- 
fore impossible that this sentiment could come into conflict with 
any justified human aim. Just as emphatically did he insist on 
the truth that all reUgion is positive, and that the pious sense 
of dependence can be kept alert only in the community of the 
faithful. In ethics, with a freer spirit than Kant's, he allowed 
personality its full rights : it was not suppression of nature 
which to him seemed moral, but the enUghtenment of nature by 
the Uving 'spirit ; nor did he conceal his opinion that the virtue 
of Christian self-denial must be supplemented by the classical 
virtue of self-assertion. The weaknesses of his teaching were 
displayed^as soon as he ^endeavoured to demonstrate which of 
the facts of sacred history are necessarily contained in the 
Christian consciousness ; then he was betrayed into subtleties, 
and had to learn how impossible it is to deduce positive dogmas 
directly from the abstract idea. Yet how little significance for 
him had dogmas and ritual when compared with the blessing of 
religious community ! When the struggles about evangelical 
union broke out he was the most valiant defender of a free 
ecclesiastical constitution and of the alUance of the Protestant 

Among the laity also, signs of a more active Christian life 
showed on all hands that the dominion of rationalism was 
passing. It could not be forgotten how thoughtfully in the 
days of the great news of victory the German army had listened 
to the words of the poet : " Canst grasp the word of blessing 
that comes from near and far ? Art not thereby overwhelmed, 
thou people of the Lord ? " Even the children of this world 
had then felt to the depths of their souls the simple truth that 
pious nations alone are free and valiant. The spirited hymns to 
" the old German God " did not anywhere breathe a definite 
religious party spirit, but they displayed a profound joy in the 
consciousness of God which had nothing in common with the 
inner poverty of rationaUsm. In most of the men who with a 
clear consciousness had lived through that epoch of God's judgment 
there remained for all time a heightened religious feeUng, equally 
whether, like Stein, Arndt, Savigny, and Aster, they found peace 
in the faith of their fathers, or, like Niebuhr, sought longingly 
for faith. Martial-minded youths, finally, wore silver^^crosses 
in their Teutonic caps, and were overwhelmed by enthusiasm 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

for Christianity ; since the days of the Reformation the German 
universities had not seen any generation of students so seriously 
concerned about questions of rehgion. It was true that the 
Christianity of the ardent Teutonisers was free neither from 
disagreeable boasting nor from a Puritan lack of good taste : 
the prayer at the opening of the evening wine party did not 
always prevent the meeting so reverently begun from degenerat- 
ing into a wild carouse ; and with fuU justice did the Berlin 
public take forcible measures against the young barbarians when 
the students on the occasion of a representation of Zacharias 
Werner's Wei he der Kraft, greeted the appearance of Martin 
Luther with the loud cry, " The reformer of the stage ! " To 
many of the noisy Christo-Germanic enthusiasts rehgion served 
merely as a political catchword now that Germanism and 
Christianism were regarded as synonymous ; while to some it 
was simply a cloak for the hatred of the J«ws which was now 
in fashion. 

Nevertheless there was a sound kernel to the religious 
enthusiasm of the younger generation. The Germans at length 
recognised how intimately their entire civilisation was hnked 
with Christianity, and the effects of this recognition were so far- 
reaching that frankly pagan sentiments like those which had 
formerly been cherished by Winckelmann soon became impossible 
to the children of the new time. Young men thronged round 
the teachers who displayed an imderstanding of the yearn- 
ing for reUgious emotion. In Heidelberg, Daub, a pious and 
brilliant mystic and an intimate friend of Creuzer, endeavouring 
to re-estabhsh dogma through speculation, soon had more 
adherents among the students than had the rationahsts. His 
followers compared him with Hamann, and spoke of him as the 
" Magus of the South." In Jena, Fries, a philosopher devoid of 
acuteness jjor profundity, nevertheless won the hearts of the 
students because with honest patriotism and scientific 
earnestness he combined a no less upright piety. For some 
years his dialogue Julius and Euagoras remained the favourite 
work of edification of the Teutonising students, for here the 
philosophy of Kant and the religious fervour of the Hermhut 
Moravians were juxtaposed with the same innocence and imme- 
diacy as in the heads of the youthful readers. 

Almost in every German province there still existed a few 
strictly rehgious communities which adhered faithfully to their 
thoroughly orthodox pastors, opposing a passive but insuperable 


History of Germany 

resistance to the ill-favour of the rationalistic consistories. This 
was the case especially in the Wupper valley and among the 
pensive Swabians, but also in Saxony, Pomerania, and Old 
Prussia. In Breslau, those of strict religious views assembled 
round Hendrik Steffens, the worthy but unstable enthusiast who 
knew how to fuse the rigid Lutheranism of his Norwegian home 
with the imaginative pictures of German romanticist philosophy. 
In the fashionable society of BerUn, certain gifted young men, 
who formerly as officers " had in war been led to the Lord," 
founded a private circle of believers : this numbered among its 
members the brothers Gerlach, Lancizolle, Le Coq, Thadden, 
Senfft-Pilsach, Goetze, and Carl von Roeder. Here the crown 
prince passed edifying hours which were to prove momentous 
in the formation of his rehgious and political views ; here he 
secured assistance for his unwearying works of benevolence ; and 
here also the plan for the foundation of the Berlin missionary 
union was first mooted. In all works of Christian charity 
the religious tendency showed itself far superior to a flabby 
rationaUsm ; strongly religious was Oberiin the Alsatian, the 
never-to-be-forgotten benefactor of the Steintal, and a religious 
man was Falk of Weimar, who was the first to open a home 
for orphan children. Nor was there any lack of highly gifted 
preachers ; in Holstein, the memory persisted for decades of 
the vigorous eloquence with which Clause Harms, the fiery 
Lutheran zealot, discoursed to his peasants in the local dialect. 
In the north, the " Wandsbecker Bote," the tender-hearted old 
Claudius, and on the Upper Rhine the devout Jung StiUing, 
were regarded as the leaders of the pious. Both of these men 
died at the very beginning of the years of peace, but their 
words and example continued to exercise a powerful influence. 
Pietism and the strict religious parties gained ground more and 
more, especially in the country districts, until at length the 
authorities of the Church were forced to take these new powers 
into account. 

The natural reaction against the superficiality of rationalism 
had begun, but even in this first stage of a vigorous religious 
life there were manifest certain morbid tendencies which must 
inevitably prove injurious to the religious peace of our nation 
with its parity of creeds. While many of the orthodox encoun- 
tered the free manifestations of Protestantism with unchristian 
severity, and passionately opposed evangelical union, they were 
attracted, consciously or unconsciously, towards the Roman 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

church. In 1818, Beckedorff of Beraburg, tutor in the princely 
family, and one of the most notable of the Lutheran pietists, 
published letters upon the reunion of the Christian Churches, and 
although Roman Catholic sentiment was expressed in every Une 
he secured the warmest approval of his co-religionists — until, a 
few years later, he went over to Rome. The convert Friedrich 
Stolberg wrote a Geschichte der Religion Jesu Christi, CathoUc 
through and through, but it was loudly praised in the conven- 
ticles of the Evangelical pietists, and the bookseller Perthes, a 
faithful Protestant, son-in-law of the " Wandsbecker Bote," 
zealously circulated the work. Max von Schenkendorf, singer 
of the War of Liberation and an intimate friend of Jung Stilling, 
went so far as to voice the glories in enthusiastic poems of the 
fanatical leader of the CathoHc league, " the firm and faithful 
Max of Bavaria." In addition, now in one place and now in 
another, people were disturbed by the ghost-seeing, the second 
sight, and the prophetic ecstasies, of all kinds of enthusiasts. 
Most of them were connected in some way with the Moravian 
Brethren ; they flourished luxuriantly where the soil had been 
aptly prepared by rationalism. The vague excitement which in 
periods of great and fateful transformation always seizes the 
mass of the people, co-operated with the follies of the natural 
philosophers. Just as, after Luther's appearance, the peasants 
dreamed of the millennium, so, after the overthrow of Napoleon, 
revivalist preachers spoke of the fall of the black angel and of 
the beast with seven horns. In all German-speaking lands, from 
the Upper Rhine to Livonia, a few mysterious exorcists and 
pious sleep-walkers made their appearance ; in many instances 
the emotional enthusiasm increased to the point of lunacy. 
Frau von Kriidener travelled through Switzerland, Alsace, and 
Baden, exhorting the people to repent and to feed the poor. 
Although her sermons were as futile and maudlin as had been 
her romance Valerie, she found adherents among the masses ; 
Mettemich complained to her friend Czar Alexander that she 
was disturbing the pubUc peace, ^ and the Badenese police had 
ultimately to expel her as a demagogue. A lust for the miracu- 
lous was in the air and thoughtful natures succumbed to it 
most readily. Even Schleiermacher's excellent wife could not 
do without edifying intercourse with a wonderful female 
somnambulist, and her husband himself was not altogether 
immune from this woman's influence. 

* Knisemark's Report, Vienna, October 4, 1817. 

337 z 

History of Germany 

Just as rich in contrasts was the life of the Catholic church. 
The majority of Protestants were under the delusion that the 
power of the papacy had now been completely broken. How 
was the Roman See ever to resume its designs for world- 
dominion ? Only a few years before, the Catholic church in 
France had been restored solely by the power of the secular 
arm, and it was by the grace of the aUies that the sovereign 
pontiff had so recently regained the heritage of Peter. The 
much-tried pope Pius VII was generally regarded with good- 
natured compassion, not unmixed with contempt ; the con- 
servative parties hailed him as a useful ally in the struggle 
with the revolution. Not even the protest of the Curia against 
the decisions of the Vienna congress disturbed the unsuspecting 
security of the governments. In all seriousness the question was 
being discussed whether after the death of Pius VII another 
pope would ever be elected. 

In fact the well-bred mildness of the distinguished prelates 
of the eighteenth century Uved on in a certain section of the 
clergy. Whoever moved in these crcles might readily imagine 
that the antagonism of the creeds would by degrees spontaneously 
disappear. The Bible-societies of Kreuznach and Neuwied 
were vigorously supported by many Catholic priests of the 
bishopric of Treves.^ In Breslau the members of each of the 
two theological faculties were accustomed to attend the disputa- 
tions held by the " sister church," and as late as the year 1828 
the prize in a competition instituted by the Catholic faculty of 
Tiibingen was won by the Protestant theologian David Friedrich 
Strauss. Amongst priests and laity Hontheim's dream of a 
German national church continued to gain numerous adherents, 
and there was frequently voiced a demand for the introduction 
of a German liturgy and for the abolition of the cehbacy of the 
priesthood. Many defenders of the omnipotence of the state 
wished to apply to the Catholic church the territorial system of 
Thomasius, and to treat priests as nothing more than " most 
honourable state-servants." Heinrich Wessenberg, the spokes- 
man of the movement for a national church, had already intro- 
duced German hymns into his diocese of Constance ; he regarded 
the Protestants]|tolerantly as " the church of the left." Sailer, 
the excellent prelate who by example and precept reawakened a 
living piety in the Catholic church of Bavaria, was more guarded 

* Report of I'rcsident von Ingerslcben npon the state of affairs in the grand 
duchy of the Txxwcr Rhine, July 26, 1H17. 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

in his dealings with the Roman See. But he also did not 
hesitate to appeal publicly to the writings of Protestant theo- 
logians. He lived on terms of intimate friendship with many 
Protestants, sharing with them a veneration for Thomas a 
Kempis, a knowledge of whom was revived in German CathoUc 
congregations through Sailer's translation. Overberg, too, the 
CathoHc pedagogue of Miinster, secured Stein's respect by his 
apostolic gentleness ; and the no less strongly reUgious Boisser^es, 
who looked upon art as merely the daughter of religion, continued 
to keep in touch with the works of Protestant science. Just as 
these men stood near to the views of the Evangelical pietists, 
so on the other side Hermes, the theologian of Bonn, had 
adopted the methods of Protestant rationalism, and attempted 
the impossible task of upholding CathoUc dogma by the rational 
demonstrations of the Kantian philosophy. His adherents 
dominated the educational institutions on the Rhine, and 
honourably endeavoured to preserve reUgious peace. 

What a gulf between the ideas of these peace-loving men 
and the plans of dominion which animated the Roman See. 
Hardly had Pius VH returned to the holy city when in the 
bull of August 7, 1814, SoUicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, he 
re-established the Jesuit order, and personally read the mass 
In nomine Jesu at the altar of St. Ignatius Loyola, where the 
chisel of Le Gros had celebrated in boastful sculpture the 
triumph of the church over heresy. When subsequently Czar 
Alexander invited him to join the Holy AlUance, the pope 
rejected the proposal, which could hardly have been seriously 
meant, with all the pride of the rightful ruler of the world. 
Soon afterwards, the Inquisition and the Index of prohibited books 
were reintroduced, and the Bible-societies were declared to be 
the work of the devil. In the days of revolutionary oppression 
the ancient church had displayed marvellous moral courage, 
and had learned by experience that its most powerful energies 
sprang from suffering. Now it shone with all the glory of 
martyrdom ; the romantic yearning of public opinion, and the 
dread which the courts felt for the revolution, were to her 
advantage. In anti-papal England, for the first time since the 
days of James II, a cardinal was able to appear in full canonicals. 
The pleasing illusion of those enlightened persons who believed 
that the new century had outgrown the passions of the religious 
wars had just been plainly refuted by the Spanish War of 
Liberation ; and now, while the monarchs were still in Paris, 


History of Germany 

there broke over southern France the madness of the White 
Terror : the CathoHc mob stormed the houses of the Protestants 
and murdered the heretics to the cry of, " Let us make black- 
puddings of Calvin's blood ! " 

With such a favourable wind, the bark of Peter was once 
more in full sail. By the nature of things, the Roman See was 
compelled, despite the pope's tender-heartedness, and despite the 
prudence of his secretary Consalvi, to return step by step to the 
ideas of the epoch of the counter-reformation. Quite incon- 
spicuously the first Jesuits insinuated themselves once again into 
Germany ; and the two-edged influence of secularisation was 
soon manifest. The increasingly plebeian clergy had neither 
possessions nor home, and was no longer, as had been the 
wealthy and noble cathedral chapters of old, bound to the 
fatherland by poUtical interest. When, at the Vienna congress, 
Helfferich and the two other orators of the Catholic church gave 
expression to their ultramontane views, they secured but little 
support from the German clergy ; but since then, unnoticed, the 
clerical party had grown from . year to year. This party still 
proceeded with cautious steps, for in all the German states the 
officialdom regarded it with mistrust ; even Emperor Francis 
and Mettemich, although they looked on militant CathoUcism 
as the natural ally of the Austrian party in the German realm, 
were still, as strict absolutists, unwilUng to listen to a word 
about the independence of the church. The Jesuits, in order 
to curry favour with the courts, now refurbished those Jacobite 
doctrines which had once led the House of Stuart to destruction : 
the Reformation, they said, was the ultimate source of all 
revolutions, whereas the church was the fortress and support 
of kingship, for the church taught passive obedience, and by her 
mystical consecration she released the king-by-God's-grace of all 
duties towards his subjects. j 

The most zealous adherents of the ultramontane party were 
the numerous proselytes whom romanticism had led into the 
Roman camp. Among these were numbered the talented 
brothers Schlosser in Frankfort ; Count Stolbcrg in Holstein, 
who was in close relationship with the clericals of the Miinster 
region ; and all the members of that powerful group of converts 
who from Vienna despatched vigorous envoys into the German 
realm. What a lamentable picture of intellectual decay was 
now exhibited by Friedrich Schlegel ! In the days of his 
jesthetic pride he had once said boastfully : "I think of 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

founding a new religion ; it is time ! " This same aesthetic 
intoxication drove him, when he had given up the idea of 
founding a new reUgion, into the arms of the Roman church, 
accompanied by his briUiant wife Dorothea Mendelssohn and her 
son Veit the Nazarene painter, and he was now fast-fixed in 
the shackles of a complete system which had an answer ready 
for every question that could be proposed. Wilhelm Humboldt 
observed with disgust how this once open mind had become 
tightly closed to everything ; how Schlegel could now discern 
nothing but heretics on the one hand and faithful disciples on 
the other, and could no longer take part in a free conversation, 
modestly searching for truth. Owing to his increasing slothful- 
ness Schlegel was of little use to the ultramontane propaganda. 
Far more effective work was done by the Pomeranian KUnckow- 
strom, an amiable romanticist enthusiast ; his school in Vienna 
became the nursery of the clerical Austrian nobility. His 
brother-in-law, Pilat of Augsburg, CathoUc by birth, and married 
to a convert, was editor of the Oesterreichischer Beobachier, 
Metternich's official journal. But in talent, activity, and 
fanaticism, Adam Miiller excelled all the rest ; it seemed as if the 
brilliant but fundamentally false sophist desired to wipe out the 
stain of his Berlin origin by his raging fury against heretics ; 
his hand was at work wherever there was evidence of Jesuit 
intrigues throughout the north ; most of the pens which 
defended the German policy of the Hofburg, belonged to this 
circle of converts. Gentz alone could not make up his mind to 
go over to Rome (although his detestation for Luther, the arch- 
revolutionary, became ever more violent), for the nucleus of 
his culture was too intimately associated with the Kantian 

Enlightened Protestants had long become accustomed to these 
numerous conversions, and they were first startled out of their 
thoughtless indifference when it was reported that C. L. von 
Haller of Berne had gone over to Rome. Who could take it 
amiss in the case of the valiant publicist, the passionate enemy 
of the Revolution, that as a logical outcome of his poUtical 
views he should be forced to a change of faith ? But Haller 
kept his conversion secret, with the approval of the bishop of 
Fribourg. Subsequently, as member of the council of Berne, he 
took the official oath which pledged him to the protection of the 
Reformed Church ; and when the unsavoury secret was at length 
disclosed by others, in an open Letter to my Family (1821) 


History of Germany 

he declared unashamedly that he had remained silent on excel- 
lent grounds, in order that his new volume, Die Geistlichen 
Staaten, might exercise a stronger influence upon its readers, 
" because it was apparently written by a Protestant " ! Seldom 
have the moral principles of Jesuitry been more impudently 
enunciated. A fine prospect now opened for religious peace, 
when the apostate, amid the acclamations of the French legiti- 
mist press, triumphantly declared that the world was now 
divided between Catholics and the godless, that this one con- 
version would be followed by thousands of others, until humanity 
would be completely dehvered from the powers of the 
ecclesiastical and of the political revolution. A flood of polemic 
writings appeared. The gentle pulpit-orator Tzschirner of 
Leipzig, the rationalist philosopher Krug, and other Protestants, 
expressed their naive astonishment in straightforward words. 
People began to recognise upon how weak a foundation had 
been established the dominion of the much- vaunted " rational 

The CathoUc church, hke the Protestant, was afflicted with 
the extravagances of crude superstition. Munich was the 
acropolis of the CathoUc Magians. In Bavaria, the exorcisms 
of the deceased Gassmer were still remembered ; now Baader 
could boast of a daughter possessed of the devil. In Franconia, 
a cardinal of peasant origin made a progress through the villages 
accompanied by a girl who was about to give birth to the 
Saviour ; in the Black Forest, in Alpgau, among the rough 
Hotzeners, the fanaticism of the Saltpeterers once more 
became active ; out of Austria the fanatical sect of the Posch- 
lianers invaded Bavaria, a disorderly rout which did not shrink 
from religious murder and which could be controlled in no other 
way than by severe punishments. Among the crowd of pious 
sorcerers a priest of distinguished origin. Prince Alexander 
Hohenlohe, made himself conspicuous by impudent self-assurance. 
When Pius VII was informed that by the power of prayer the 
prince could heal those who were sick unto death, and that the 
Franconian country-folk came to him in crowds, the pope, who 
knew his man, said, shrugging his shoulders : " Questo far' dei 
miracoli ! " In a boastful appeal, the miracle-monger informed 
the princes of the Holy Alliance that it was not by force of 
arms that the revolution would now be conquered, that educa- 
tion must be reformed, that youth must be led back into the 
bosom of the church. Here pious illusion proved no less irre- 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

sistibly infective than among the Protestants ; even Sailer once 
prayed devoutly at the bedside of the miraculous nun of Diilmen. 
The irreconcilable harshness of rehgious contrasts, the utter 
lack of peace characteristic of our rehgious life, was displayed 
with terrible clearness when a Uterary quarrel once more broke 
out upon the fervid soil of Heidelberg. So many notable 
representatives of fundamentally diverse tendencies lived in close 
contact in this Uttle town, where differences of opinion were 
always fought out with deplorable bitterness. In order to make 
head against his opponents, Daub and Creuzer, Paulus had 
founded the periodical Sophronizon ; it was ably edited, and 
soon attracted attention by its frank criticism of numerous 
defects in state and church. Particularist hberaUsm, which 
divined nothing of the conditions of national power, and 
rationaUsm, which would never take into account the rehgious 
sentiments of the believing temperament, both found here a plat- 
form. When now Count Friedrich Stolberg pubhshed in Adam 
Miiller's ultra-conservative Staatsanzeiger an incisive essay upon 
the aberrations of the Zeitgeist, Voss, writing in Sophronizon in 
1819, gave vent to his feehngs against the companion of his 
youth. " How did Fritz Stolberg come to put himself on the 
side of slavery?" he fiercely demanded. As an old man he 
wished to bear witness against the old man, because he would 
soon have to answer for himself on the other shore " where 
neither knight nor parson rules." Consequently he considered 
himself discharged from all loyalty, from all obhgations, towards 
the old friend to whom forty years earher he had dedicated his 
translation of the Odyssey; and with heartless roughness, 
shamelessly disclosing the details of domestic life, he described 
how the count, even in the days when they had together been 
youthful and enthusiastic members of the Hainbund [Poets' Club] 
at Gottingen, had secretly incUned towards " hierarchic and 
aristocratic coercive rule," until at length his pride of nobiUty 
and his disordered imagination had driven him into the wilder- 
ness of Hildebrandian uncleanhness, " for the black barbarism 
of the junkers, raging more fiercely than the Turk of old, now 
threatens the enlightened nations." Apt observations upon 
the futility of conversions, and upon the pious self-admiration 
of the Stolberg circle, were lost in a sea of false accusations. 
For beyond question Stolberg had been attracted to the Roman 
church, not like Haller from the force of political conviction, 
but through the rehgious impulsion of a weakly temperament, 


History of Germany 

which could never find support in its own strength. The 
keen insight of Goethe had long ago led him to regard the 
soft-hearted man as an unconscious CathoHc. 

Like most of his contemporaries, Voss had formerly been 
an enthusiast for the rights of man championed by the Revolu- 
tion. Now, after the overthrow of the foreign dominion, the 
old man's revolutionary sentiments, which during the War of 
Liberation had not been openly displayed, flamed violently forth 
once again. He mockingly spoke of Napoleon as the destroying 
angel of the high-born, and addressed to the friend of his youth 
the question : 

" Nobler the sons of the long sword whom in the ages long vanished 
Virtues of dogs then adorned, shall we say virtues of wolves ? " 

With this fanatical hatred of the nobility was associated the 
mistrust of the rationalist for every form of rehgious life which 
was not characterised by a Umpid clarity. The grand inquisitor 
of rationalism could account for the reawakening of the religious 
sentiment in no other way than by regarding it as the result 
of reckless agitation on the part of a secret society of parsons 
and nobles. Not even the death of his old friend Stolberg, 
which occurred shortly afterwards, softened his mood. Fierce 
rejoinders from the intimates of the man he had attacked, and 
new blusterous polemic writings by Voss, Paulus and Schott, and 
Vamhagen, showed how impossible was any adjustment of 
this disorderly dispute. Goethe found once more the right word 
when he said : 

" I feel confined, sadly I muse, 
'Twixt flame and wave I dwell. 
Like feelings as when I peruse 
Dante's account of Hell." 

This detestable feud had a profound and disastrous influence 
upon German liberalism. Voss and his associates on the 
Sophronizon were the first to maintain the opinion that tradi- 
tional religious belief is intimately connected with belief in the 
value of a hereditary nobility, that the free man respects only 
" the truth which his mind has acquired for itself, and merit 
which is won by personal service." Although the folly of this 
proposition must have been manifest to everyone who knew the 
religious fervour of the North American democracy, among the 
Germans, with their love for systematised thinking, it secured a 


Mental "Currents of the First Years of Peace 

considerable amount of support, and there gradually ensued a 
morbid confusion of speech which has continued to falsify 
German party-life down to the present day. People began to 
believe that which immediately after the holy war no one had 
ventured to maintain, that rationalistic or even anti-religious 
sentiments were the unmistakable index of political liberalism ; 
the two were simultaneously designated by the fine-sounding 
name of free thought and in this way the governments, being 
by nature conservative, were forced into close approximation to 
the strictly religious parties. Even more deplorable in its 
effects was the unfortunate example of a spirit of " enlightened " 
intolerance, which discovered everywhere priestly tyranny, blue- 
blooded arrogance, or servile obedience, and which subsequently 
secured its natural response in the animosity displayed in the 
prosecution of the demagogues. 

The most influential publicists of those days were likewise 
animated by this spirit of narrow-minded intolerance. For 
twenty years Carl von Rotteck was the highly esteemed 
political teacher of the South German bourgeoisie, simply 
because he had neither energy nor desire to rise above the 
average middle-class outlook. Although the honest man did 
not woo popular favour, his views never failed to exhibit a 
spontaneous harmony with " the imperious Zeitgeist." He took 
the word from the mouths of the well-to-do townsmen and 
peasants of the south, and with invincible courage, with the 
fervent eloquence of conviction, announced what all were 
obscurely feeling. To his mother's French blood he owed 
a facility of expression rare at that time among German men 
of learning ; never wearying, he turned this way and that his 
extremely modest provision of ideas, until to his readers every- 
thing he alleged seemed luminous and incontestable. The 
democratic ideas which had found their way into High Germany 
in the days of the taking of the Bastille had since then under- 
gone a quiet process of invigoration and had been widely diffused ; 
the whole traditional ordering of the state had been destroyed 
by the princes' revolution of the Napoleonic epoch, while among 
the middle classes, resentment of the arbitrary rule of the Rhenish 
confederate officials increased from year to year. Out of such 
ideas and wishes, Rotteck, at a remarkably early date, immedi- 
ately after the conclusion of peace, constructed his finished 
ideal picture of an exemplary constitutional state. He believed 


History of Germany 

himself to stand in the foremost front of time, and did not 
suspect how strongly his own doctrine was influenced by the 
traditional ideas which continued to live on in the nation with 
wonderful tenacity ; like the feudal nobility in the good old 
days, he regarded the centraUsed authority of the state as the 
natural enemy of Uberty. All who did not share his views were 
numbered among those " to whom a smile from a powerful 
minister, a ribbon and a star, or a comfortable appointment, 
are dearer than the common weal." When compared with 
Savigny and Niebuhr, Rotteck had the aspect of a scientific 
reactionary, for the fundamental ideas of his theory belonged 
essentially to the eighteenth century ; but with great adroitness 
he deduced from these antiquated propositions certain conse- 
quences which did in fact correspond with the practical needs 
of the day. A partisan from top to toe, accustomed from the 
first to measure men and things solely with the foot-rule of 
political doctrine, he had lived through the great age of our 
literature entirely without understanding it; to him Marquis 
Posa's enthusiasm for freedom was still the crown of German 
poesy — ^what could Goethe, the prince's lackey, show to equal 
this ? 

Nevertheless, even this poUtical zealot could not deny the 
literary origin of German liberalism, for he too was irresistibly 
attracted to that Frenchman who among the predecessors of the 
Revolution had had the weakest political intelligence, but had 
at the same time been the most moving artist, and who was 
therefore the most intimately akin to German culture. From 
Rousseau he learned the doctrines of popular sovereignty and 
universal equaUty, and also the childUke belief in the natural 
innocence of man. With the aid of the Kantian natural law, 
which approximated very closely to the views of the Genevese 
philosopher, he then endeavoured to incorporate these ideas into 
a system, although he regarded philosophy as no more than the 
interpreter of the healthy human understanding. The third 
source of his doctrine was the work upon the limits of papal 
authority written by Hontheim under the pen-name of Febronius. 
Here Rotteck found a remarkable mixture of zeal for enlighten- 
ment and faith in Catholic doctrine, one which was in conformity 
with his own sentiments ; here too he found the prototype for 
the method of his artificial political demonstration. Just as 
Hontheim, a well-meaning precursor of the advocates of a 
national church, simply ignored the last centuries of ecclesiastical 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

history, ascribed to the pope no more than a few modest 
honorary rights, and yet was by no means incUned to attack 
the papacy as an institution, so Rotteck deprived kingship of 
all its important prerogatives, and yet believed that he was not 
anti-monarchical. In all innocence and without any revolution- 
ary arriire pcnsee, he preached a revolutionary theory which was 
utterly irreconcilable with the characteristics of the German state 

The son of a loyal Austrian, he grew to manhood in the 
beautiful district of Breisgau, during the days when the reforms 
of Joseph II aroused enthusiasm among the enlightened Upper 
Austrians. The system of making people happy by force always 
remained for him the true expression of liberal policy. Subse- 
quently he had had to endure the painful experience of seeing 
his homeland united to Baden, and he now Uved under a 
government which he long continued to regard mistrustfully 
as semi-foreign, in a state without a history, a state whose 
institutions seemed the outcome of chance or caprice. Even 
under the pressure of the Napoleonic censorship, he had 
continued manfully to express his love for the German father- 
land ; when the Uberators entered Baden he immediately took 
over the editorship of the Teutschen Blatter, and placed the 
paper at the disposal of the alUed headquarters. But he felt 
quite at home only among his Alemannic fellow-countrymen; to 
them were primarily devoted all his energies of tongue and pen, and 
with genuine delight he dedicated one of his books " to all the 
worthy citizens of Freiburg." When the homely Uttle man, in 
the afternoons, as soon as his work at the university was 
finished, cUmbed vigorously up the foot-hills of the Black Forest 
to his Uttle vineyard of Schonehof, and thence looked down over 
the charming valley and the beautiful towers of the minster, 
he felt that the pearl of Germany lay beneath his eyes. Now 
that this magnificent country was blessed with the long-desired 
rational constitution, he could think only with contempt of the 
distant north, which naturally, after the manner of his country- 
men, he had never taken the trouble to visit. He asked with 
pride whether sunny Rhineland could rest content with 
poUtical rights which might indeed suffice for gloomy Pome- 
rania. The Alemanni of Baden found in Rotteck, as the 
Swabians found in Uhland, all the characteristics of their 
own nature : hardy candour, democratic obstinacy, Josephan 
enlightenment, but also provincial hmitations, naive ignorance 


History of Germany 

of all the conditions of political power, and the self-satisfaction 
of ingenuous particularism. " We must go and see Rotteck 
about it," said the peasants of the Black Forest, when 
complaints made to the officials proved unavailing. 

Rotteck's reputation was first established among the middle 
class by his Allgemeine Weltgeschichte. The book began to 
appear in 1812, and the sale increased with each successive 
volume ; in the bourgeois houses of many small southern towns 
the entire library consisted of Bible, prayer book, and Rotteck. 
To the profoundly dissatisfied and yet poUtically helpless peoples 
of the petty states, what could sound more agreeable than the 
self-satisfied triviaUty of this historical wisdom, which knew 
absolutely nothing of the determinism of historic Ufe, but 
deduced all the misfortunes of the nations solely from the 
wickedness and the blindness of their rulers, and which frankly 
declared that its highest aim was " to give expression to that 
pubUc opinion which is now manifesting itself with such force, 
and whose manifestation affords such promise of salvation." 
The arid rationalism of the eighteenth century historians was 
here fused with the party passion of the new age. Rotteck 
regarded the state only from beneath, with the eyes of the 
ruled. He never asked himself how human affairs appear from 
above, what ideas determine the actions of rulers, and what 
obstacles rulers have to overcome. To him every prince, every 
person in authority, was an object of suspicion. Even in 
personal intercourse, the inveterate bourgeois could not endure 
men of noble birth, and the sight of a uniform or of a 
decoration made him uncomfortable. As Rotteck admitted in 
one of his letters, his sympathies were alienated from Blucher 
as soon as the old hero came to bear the princely title. 

Never before had a German book voiced so bluntly the 
worst weakness of modern democracy, the envious hatred of 
everything that transcends vulgar mediocrity. In set terms, the 
popular historian reproves Alexander the Great because this 
" man of dust and clay made crushed nations the pedestal of 
his fame " ; he angrily demands of the heroes of the crusades, 
" by what right was Palestine conquered ? " To him the entire 
course of universal history displayed in detestable monotony 
the same painful tragedy : the ever-innocent people had all 
through the centuries been maltreated by bloody tyrants, and 
misled into wars to their common hurt ; then came the middle 
ages to afflict mankind, " ten centuries of barbarism, savagery, 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

and gloom, a period equally lacking in charm and interest " ; 
until finally the darkness was lightened by the popular heroes 
of the American and French revolutions, and the imperious 
Zeitgeist came into its own. 

The frank self-complacency of the philosophical century was 
here revived, but now it indued a political dress. In Rotteck's 
Universal History, the republican ideal of the state was for the 
first time preached to the German middle classes. During 
the American War of Independence, enthusiasm for the 
youthful republic of the west had been restricted to the narrow 
circles of cultured youth, and during the storms of the Napo- 
leonic days America had been utterly forgotten. Now Rotteck 
directed the gaze of the discontented once again towards the 
west. " In the west," he exclaimed, " in the youthful New 
World, natural, rational right is building its chosen realm." It 
is true that as a law-abiding citizen he appeasingly added : 
" But it is not the republican form which we regard as the sun 
of this day, but the republican spirit " ; he even went so far 
as to maintain that in a rational monarchy the republican 
spirit can get most vigorously to work. But since his exem- 
plary state was based upon the repubUcan idea of p>opular 
sovereignty, the impression was left in the minds of his readers 
that the republic alone was the rational state, was alone the 
" free state " (for these two expressions were already used as 
practically synonymous). This doctrine found acceptance all 
the more readily, because everyone had now begun to learn at 
school the philologists' fable of the wonderful freedom of the 
republics of antiquity. 

Just as misleading was the partisan description of the recent 
past. How powerful was still the mythopoeic faculty of the 
popular intelligence, even in this century proud of its cultural 
attainments. Immediately after the conclusion of peace, the 
image of the experiences so recently lived through became 
distorted and confused in the popular memory. Just as the 
French universally believed that they had been conquered only 
by a force ten times as strong as their own, so among the 
discontented of Germany there soon became current a whole 
world of strange partisan fables. Rotteck expressed the heart- 
felt feelings of the southern liberals when he confidently main- 
tained that of all the European powers it was the two constitu- 
tional states of England and Spain, miraculously strengthened 
by the freedom of their institutions, which alone had been able 


History of Germany 

to withstand the Napoleonic world-empire. Nobody alluded to 
the fact that Russia had displayed the same power of resistance, 
for after the foundation of the Holy Alliance this state, but 
now so loudly praised, became the object of the liberals' 
passionate hatred, and Rotteck exhorted Prussia to devote her- 
self to the task of serving the cause of European freedom by 
constituting herself a bulwark against the threatening Muscovite 
slavery. On the other hand, praise was showered upon the 
Cortes constitution of 1812, which was supposed to have inspired 
the Spanish nation for its heroic struggle ; for a whole decade 
this constitution remained the favourite child of the liberals, 
because, having come into existence in the absence of the 
monarch, it imposed extreme restrictions upon the power of the 
crown, and seemed therefore to approximate to the highest ideal, 
that of American freedom. 

A still more extraordinary story was soon in circulation 
regarding the German War of Liberation. It was said that by 
the appeal of Kalisz and the promise of a Prussian constitution 
the allied princes had filled the German people with false hopes. 
" Allured by a flattering tale " (it was thus that Rotteck spoke 
of the Kalisz proclamation), they had hastened by hundreds of 
thousands to take up arms ! The inveracity of this view could 
be sufficiently proved by an appeal to the calendar. The ordin- 
ance respecting the future constitution of Prussia was signed on 
May 22, 1815, and was not pubHshed until July 8th, when the 
last war against Napoleon was already drawing to a close. As 
regards the appeal of Kalisz, the mass of the men of the 
Prussian Landwehr had known little or nothing about it. Yet 
this partisan fable found credence, at first in the south, and 
subsequently, when discontent became more rife, even in Prussia. 
People felt they had been betrayed and sold ; it seemed impos- 
sible to explain the deplorable state of Germany after such enor- 
mous sacrifices as the outcome of a great deception. Soon every- 
one was regarded as a reactionary who continued to recognise 
otherwise than the truth, that the Prussians had simply 
risen up, in response to their king's appeal, to free the soil of 
their homeland from the enemy and to re-establish the honour 
of their old royal flag. Those thus blinded, no longer noticed 
how insulting their allegations were to the Prussian nation. 

Even in Prussia the performances of the Landwehr were 
overestimated. The liberals of the highlands at length came to 
recount miracles of Liitzow's yagers and of the other volunteers, 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

although these had contributed but little to the victories of the 
allies. Those, indeed, who had a first-hand knowledge of the 
art of war held other views. Speckbacher, one of the brave 
leaders of the Tyrolese insurgents of 1809, remarked to York's 
aide-de-camp Carl von Roeder : " Among us peasants there was 
a vigorous spirit, but no discipline ; among the Austrian 
imperial troops, it was the other way about ; with Blucher and 
York, the soldiers had both, discipline and courage — I wish I 
had been there ! " The morose party-feeUng of the liberals 
deprived them of all ear for this language of the straightforward 
human reason ; the name of voluntary army (Freischar) was to 
them as irresistible as that of free state {Freistaat). The 
insignificant Prussian volunteer corps were compared with the 
Spanish guerillas, and the " holy volunteers " were regarded as 
the true conquerors of Napoleon. The fiery verses of Lutzows 
wilde verwegene Jagd, which young Komer had unreflectingly 
composed in the fulness of his inspired heart, gradually acquired 
the sense of a partisan song. The poem was repeated in a 
challenging tone, as if to bring the regular troops into contempt ; 
and before long King Frederick WilUam could not endure the 
vigorous strains, because they seemed to him to convey an 
affront to his valiant army. This discontented generation 
seemed no longer able to take an innocent dehght in the great 
deeds of German history. 

All the embitterment of liberalism found expression in 
Rotteck's work, published in 1816, Uber stehende Heere und 
National miliz [Standing Armies and a National Militia]. What 
a contrast to Riihle von Lilienstem's patriotic book Vom Kriege ! 
The Prussian officer, with statesmanlike moderation, had 
proposed to nationalise the army and to militarise the nation 
as well ; whereas Rotteck, the partisan, propounded a revolu- 
tionary alternative, asking whether the nation was itself to be 
[made an army, or whether the soldiers were to be made citizens. 
This, he said, was the great question of a momentous hour. 
Hardly a year after the army of the line and the Landwehr 
had fought together so gloriously at Belle Alliance, he attacked 
the Prussian Army Law with fanatical rage, declaring with 
arrogant confidence : " Any state which endeavours to gain strength 
through a standing army, renounces the possibility of a vigorous 
Landwehr." He described a standing army as the bulwark of 
despotism. He declared : " When all our young men are 
summoned to the army, the entire nation will be permeated 


History of Germany 

with the sentiments of the hirehng." In conclusion, he bluntly 
demanded the abolition of standing armies, so that in time 
of peace no more than a small force of recruited troops should 
be maintained, and the Landwehr was to have a scanty training 
lasting a few weeks. Whilst thus flourishing revolutionary 
catchwords, he demanded with ingenuous class-selfishness that 
the system of substitution should be introduced into his Landwehr ; 
entire groups were to be liberated from service, and above all 
the students. He ends with the proud prophecy : " What- 
ever prince carries out this idea will shine by the Ught of his 
own glory, and should he be a German he would be the 
leader of his race ! " 

Such was the bUndness displayed even in its first beginnings 
by the excessive self-esteem of particularist Hberalism. The 
princes of Germany, rivalUng one another in hberal deeds, were 
to compete humbly for the gift of the crown of the future 
empire at the hands of the sole representatives of the masterful 
Zeitgeist. When, about this time, Duke Charles Augustus dis- 
banded the army of Weimar, and contented himself with an 
armed watch, praises were showered upon him, and the Allge- 
meine Zeitung wrote with delight : " Here, in the most exquisite 
manner was the action performed, whilst there was its glorifica- 
tion uttered, each unconsciously of the other." It is true that 
another leader of Badenese liberalism. Baron von Liebenstein, 
opposed his Freiburg comrade in a thoughtful work, but now as 
always Rotteck had spoken for the great majority of the party. 
Need for peace and economic stringency, provincial ignorance of 
the relationships between the European powers, mistrust of the 
courts, and, not least, subconscious doubt of the military 
efficiency of the isolated petty contingents in the minor states — 
all these things combined to make liberal sentiment more and 
more definitely adverse to the army. Rotteck's angry declama- 
tion against the hireling spirit of the soldiery awakened loud 
echoes, although everyone must have known that the German 
soldier was removed from civic life only for a brief period by 
the compulsion of the military law, and that he had to content 
himself imwillingly enough with his poor pay of two groschen a 
day. Fervent abuse of the mercenaries was regarded for an 
entire generation]*as an unmistakable sign of sound liberal senti- 
ments, and the inevitable result was that the officers' corps 
inclined more and more to rigid conservative views. 

The mistrust of the army felt by the liberals was closely 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

associated with their fierce hatred of the nobiUty, which found 
expression in all the periodicals and pamphlets of the parties of 
opposition. The particularist spirit of the various territorial 
areas and estates had been the ancient curse of Germany ; all 
classes, and by no means the nobility alone, had shared in this 
ancient national sin. Just as at the close of the middle ages 
the defiant spirit of the great communes contributed to destroy 
the prestige of the imperial authority, and throughout the 
sixteenth century to frustrate all attempts at imperial reform, 
so now the bourgeoisie was certainly no less to blame than the 
nobiUty for the reawakening of a detestable class-hostility. In 
this matter also the literary origin of German liberalism had 
to be atoned for. Since very few men of noble birth had 
co-operated in the rise of the new art and science, in the cultured 
middle classes, side by side with justified feelings of self- 
complacency, there came into existence a sentiment of 
deplorable contempt for the nobility, and people talked as if 
nature had denied understanding to noblemen. Many of the 
literary leaders of the nation, in the humihating circumstances 
of a poverty-stricken youth, had learned to know and to loathe 
pride of caste, for not a few of them had been tutors in noble 
houses. Detestation of the high-bom found expression, above 
all, in many of the works of the new poesy, such as Emilia 
Galotti, and Kabale und Liebe. Among the members of the 
Hainbund this feeling was deeply rooted. Whoever read 
The Pastor's Daughter of Taubenheim and similar poems by 
Biirger, might well believe that the seduction of poor girls was 
the principal occupation of the German nobleman. Voss, the 
issue of Mecklenburg serfs, cherished from childhood an 
inextinguishable hatred of the junkers, and with unconcealed 
satisfaction, in one of his IdyUen, made Michel the peasant say 
of the nobles : " Rascals are they ; the best place for them to 
idle is under the gallows-tree." 

In our literary circles the night of the fourth of August, 
and all the other blows which the French Revolution directed 
against the aristocracy, were hailed with delight. Since then, 
the power of the German nobility had been profoundly shaken. 
By the principal resolution of the Diet of Deputation the nobles 
had been completely despoiled of their share in the government 
of the empire ; while by the reforms of Stein and Hardenberg 
and by the laws of the Confederation of the Rhine they had to 
a large extent been deprived of their dominant position in the 

353 2 A 

History of Germany 

country districts. But they yet retained many privileges which 
were offensive to the pride of the bourgeoisie. In the feudal 
minor states of the north, Saxony, Hanover, and Mecklenburg, 
the nobles still controlled the government and the diet ; here 
for the most part the nobles' benches of the supreme court of 
justice were still in existence ; and in the Old Prussian provinces 
patrimonial jurisdiction and the manorial police served in 
addition to maintain the power of the nobility, since landowners 
of bourgeois origin were still in the minority. In the army 
and in the civil service, the nobleman everywhere, in actual 
practice, received the preference. The personal entourage of 
the princes consisted exclusively of nobles, and Voss scornfully 
exclaimed : " The nobleman is the bom curator of the royal 
stud, the royal chase, the royal board, and the royal pleasures." 
After the overthrow of the crowned plebeian, the arrogance of 
the nobiUty often assumed an extremely provocative form ; 
even Niebuhr complained that never for forty years had the 
nobleman treated the bourgeois with such contempt. In official 
usage, the tasteless title of demoiselle was obstinately retained in 
speaking of bourgeois girls. The rules of precedence of the 
petty courts also gave expression to a ridiculous caste pride. 
Not even the highest state official could take his wife to court 
if she was of bourgeois origin ; in Hesse, the ministers could 
gain audience of the sovereign only through the instrumentality 
of an aide-de-camp of noble birth. The theatre in Weimar had 
its special boxes for the nobility ; and in the banqueting hall 
of the castle of Pillnitz there were separate galleries for the 
nobles and for the bourgeois who attended as spectators at the 
king's banquets. In the eyes of the pure-blooded junker, the 
only seemly occupations were those of military officer, court 
chamberlain, equerry, and forest ranger. A nobleman could 
interest himself in science and in art only as an amateur ; there 
was immense excitement in Breslau when a gnddiger Herr 
appeared on the boards of the town theatre among the ordinary 
players. Marriages between men of noble birth and well-dowered 
bourgeois girls were common enough ; but very rarely, and only 
in defiance of much opposition from her class, did a girl of the 
quality throw herself away upon a man of the bourgeoisie. 

These vestiges of an obsolete social order were naturally 
grievous to the bourgeoisie ; but it was rank ingratitude to 
forget how brilliantly the talents, the loyalty, and the bravery 
of the Prussian nobihty had been manifested during recent 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

anxious years. The great majority of the commanders and states- 
men to whom Germany owed her hberation were men of noble 
birth. Whilst the French aristocracy, enraged at the loss of 
their class privileges, had during the war made common cause 
with the enemies of their fatherland, the Prussian nobles, 
although they had vigorously opposed Hardenberg's legislation, 
had magnanimously forgotten their ill-feeling directly the king 
issued his summons, and had sacrificed everything for the rescue 
of the country. Had it not been for the devotion of the 
landed gentry it would have been impossible to provide the 
Landwehr with officers or to make use of this force in the 
open field. Nevertheless these patriotic soldiers were by the 
liberal press compared to the emigres ; Beranger's mischievous 
verses je suis vilain et tres-vilain found an echo on this side of 
the Rhine as if they had been equally apphcable to Germany. 
In the speeches and writings of the hberals, the Prussian state 
of 1806 was invariably described as the embodiment of all 
possible political sins. Before long it was repeated everywhere 
that the junkers had led Prussia to destruction, and that seven 
years later the country had been rescued by " the people." 
After the war, the nobiUty endeavoured to recover a portion of 
its ancient power. The mediatised besieged the Bundestag and 
the courts with their grievances ; in Prussia the feudal party 
closed its ranks. Proposals for the reconstitution of the 
influence of the nobles' order were voiced on all hands. During 
the congress of Vienna, the plan to form a " league of nobles " 
{Adelskette) was much discussed. This was to be a great 
association which throughout Germany should safeguard the 
interests of the titled class and should keep alive the sentiment of 
knightly honour, but the proposal came to nothing, and a later 
plan of the same kind, mooted by the nobles of East Prussia, 
had a similar fate. Many of the romanticist authors broke out 
into extravagant laudation of the nobility. According to 
Friedrich Schlegel this class was the foundation of civil society, 
the foundation upon which all the other classes had been built. 
A defiant little poem of Schlegel's exhorted noblemen to 
tick to the sword and the plough and to shun the babble of 
^he towns. 

These endeavours, and in addition the foohsh intrigues of 
the French emigres after their return home, increased the anger of 
the middle classes. People relapsed into those views of unmiti- 
gated class-envy which at the time of the peace of Tilsit had 



History of Germany 

been promulgated by the Bonapartist Friedrich Buchholz in his 
Researches concerning Hereditary Nobility . How incontrovertible 
it seemed when this political Nicolai showed that virtue was not 
transmissible by inheritance, and that a nobility of service like 
the French Legion of Honour was the only rational form of 
nobihty. " It is impossible," said Buchholz," to be at the same 
time a patriot and a feudal aristocrat." Von Diericke, an old 
Frederician general, modestly undertook the defence of his order, 
and in his A Word concerning the Prussian Nobility (1818) showed 
how many sons of the despised junkerdom had co-operated in 
camp and council to consolidate Prussia's greatness. His book 
aroused all the more anger because his facts could not be con- 
tradicted. In many learned circles the childish hatred of the 
aristocracy rose to such a height that even students took it 
into their calculations. In Breslau, when young Carl von Holtei 
was writing his examination paper, and did not feel quite sure 
of his knowledge, he shrewdly omitted the " von " from his 
signature, and was then delighted to observe how the professors 
put their heads together, showing to one another with satisfied 
smiles this admirable product of the young bourgeois intelligence. 
The discreet phrases in which, in his letters Concerning the Nobility, 
Perthes expressed his opposition to Fouqu^ the enthusiast 
for the knighthood, now seemed to incensed public opinion 
as httle adequate as had at an earlier date the writings of 
the bourgeoisphile but conservative Rehberg. 

Thus by its great literary successes the German bourgeoisie 
was misled into excessive self-esteem such as formerly in France 
had actuated the third estate, the only difference being that in 
the case of Germany, bourgeois arrogance still remained entirely 
restricted to the field of theory. Liberal newspapers asked 
with a light heart what it would matter if by general bank- 
ruptcy the entire nobility should lose its territorial possessions, 
and its place be taken by a new class of landowners. 
Rationalism had no understanding of the moral energy proper 
to an independent aristocracy intimately associated with the 
history of the land. These revolutionary ideas were voiced with 
especial openness by Voss and Rotteck. Consciously or uncon- 
sciously, behind such notions there lurked particularist anger 
against Prussia, for hardly had Prussia with its national army 
liberated the fatherland, when from South Germany were once 
more raised the old false accusations against " the classic land 
of junkerdom and the corporal's cane." 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

Animated with such views, Rotteck, in the year 1819, 
when the Badenese diet opened, penned his Ideas concerning 
Representative Institutions, the scientific programme of the new 
UberaHsm. The idea of deducing demands for the future from 
the nature and history of the existing state, was all the more 
remote from the minds of the Hberals because their culture was 
still entirely dominated by abstract philosophy, and because 
every publicist had a proud sense that he was tribune of the 
people for all Germany. Amid the anarchy of the Germanic 
Federation, little was left of the common German constitutional 
law ; no one could find permanent satisfaction in the contem- 
plation of any single one of the nine-and-thirty separate sove- 
reign states ; hence it resulted that all political writers 
involuntarily lapsed into the abstractions of the so-called 
" general constitutional law." Yet no one else spumed the 
historic world so presumptuously as did Rotteck. The 
enlightened man distinguished a threefold law, that of the past, 
the present, and " the future." The law of the future was 
without preamble esteemed as " the noblest of the three, and ia 
essence the only vahd law," whilst historic law was lightly dis- 
missed as historic injustice. Consequently rational law must be 
the only rule for the state, rationail law meaning the personal 
preferences of the Freiburg professor and his French teachers; 
but of course, he modestly added, reality can never be more 
than an approximation to philosophic theory. 

Just as Sieyes had combined the fire of Rousseau's theory 
of popular sovereignty with the water of Montesquieu's doctrine of 
tripartite authority, so Rotteck tried to dilute the doctrine of 
the Contrat Social with some of the ideas of monarchical con- 
stitutionalism. Briefly and clearly, in Rousseau's manner, 
he explained that the people is the natural possessor of the 
authority of the state, while the government is the artificial 
organ of the general will, its powers being the outcome of 
delegation. Consequently, in all circumstances, legislative 
authority is vested in the f)eople, whose personality is otherwise 
lost ; hence diets can exercise all the rights which the people, 
when delegating governmental authority, may be reasonably 
conjectured to have tacitly reserved for itself. Therefore the 
bi-cammeral system is unjust even when the upper chamber 
represents, in capital and landed property, just as much share 
in the state as does the lower chamber. Naturally the people 
always knows what it desires, and always desires what is best : 


History of Germany 

" where the popular will rules, it is impossible for conditions to 
arise which conflict with natural rights." With these republican 
ideas, certain feudal conceptions are then combined. For 
instance, the representative represents nothing but his own 
constituency, since he has received no mandate from any other. 
All such contradictions are explained by the one dominant 
thought, by the intention to transfer the centre of gravity of 
political life ever downwards. Faithful to the views of his 
Breisgau peasants, Rotteck was willing, in case of need, to make 
a distinction between freeholders and copyholders, but 
unquestionably universal suffrage was the logical deduction from 
his theory. Indeed, the Berlin historian Woltmann had voiced 
this last demand as early as the year 1810, in his Spirit of 
the New Prussian State Organisation. 

Thus powerful was the influence of abstract doctrine upon 
this loyal and obedient populace, as yet completely untouched 
by revolutionary greed. When barely out of its cradle, South 
German liberalism was already advocating the very same ideas 
which in France had created the ephemeral constitution of 1791, 
and soon afterwards had actually destroyed the monarchy ! 
The only thing peculiar to the good-natured Freiburger, in 
contradistinction with his French predecessors, was his hum- 
drum innocence, owing to which he had absolutely no con- 
ception of the consequences of his teaching, and his clear 
understanding of the municipal foundation of the organisation 
of the state. The ideas of the Prussian towns' ordinance arising 
from the depths of the German spirit, had long since quietly 
made the round of Germany ; even Rotteck could imagine the 
establishment of his constitutional splendours only upon the 
basis of local autonomy. Nevertheless it was impossible to over- 
look the French origin of his doctrines. For him also, the whole 
life of the state subsisted entirely in the forms of the constitu- 
tion ; he also regarded equality, not liberty, as the highest of 
political goods, and therefore took a far more lenient view of 
the pseudo-constitution of the kingdom of Westphalia than of 
the Old German feudal order. 

For this reason, his teaching also secured approval from the 
rigid Bonapartists in Munich. Here the Alcmannia of Aretin and 
Hdrmann continued to preach a shameless particularism. It 
asseverated : " Sooner will lions and eagles mate, than 
southerners and northerners unite." It instanced conversations 
between a " genuine Bavarian " and a preposterous soldier 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

of the Pomeranian Landwehr who could hardly speak German. 
It mocked and calumniated everything that was North German, 
and bluntly declared that the general name of deutsch was 
utterly unmeaning. But the Old Bavarian particularism was 
now adorned with new feathers. Adroitly mingling true and 
false, Aretin described the Alemanni (for thus he termed all the 
South Germans) as the sole representatives of constitutional 
freedom, whereas the north was the land of feudalism — and this 
in the year 1816, long before the new South German constitu- 
tions had been promulgated. Subsequently he wrote a text- 
book of constitutional law, in which he endeavoured to fuse the 
principles of the new rational law with the views of the Rhenish 
Confederate bureaucracy ; and when Aretin died while the work 
was in progress, Rotteck brought the old Bonapartist's book to 

Very different was the mental atmosphere surrounding the 
beginnings of North German liberalism. Here the concatenation 
of the times had not been completely interrupted ; many of the 
ancient feudal institutions still persisted ; a cordial sentiment of 
historic piety was active almost everywhere among the people. 
In this region the ideas of the Revolution had never struck such 
deep roots ; the liberals did not propose to remodel the state 
completely in accordance with the abstractions of rational law, 
but demanded merely the revitalising and the progressive develop- 
ment of the old feudal order. The Kieler Blatter was the organ 
of this moderate tendency. Nowhere was the intimate relation- 
ship between the new liberalism and the idealistic enthusiasm of 
our classical literature so admirably displayed as in the circle of 
refined and amiable men who thronged round this journal, the 
most vigorous in the German north. At the hospitable board 
of Countess Rentzau on the Seeburg, and at that of Frau 
Schleiden on the Ascherberger See, there assembled the leading 
men of the university of Kiel, Dahlmann, Falck, Twesten, C. T. 
Welcker, with the physician Franz Hegewisch, the brilliantly 
witty hotspur, and the leaders of the Schleswig-Holstein nobility, 
Reventlow, Rumohr, Baudissin, and Moltke. They were all 
Goethe enthusiasts ; it was a matter of pride to them all, here 
in the extreme northern march of Germany, to defend the 
German system against the growing arrogance of the Danish 
crown ; and if they were fervent advocates of constitutional 
rights, their aim was simply to realise that ideal of free and 
humane culture which had formerly been enunciated in Weimar. 


History of Germany 

It was from this little world full of talent and charm that in 
1815 was issued Dahlmann's essay A Word concerning Constitution, 
which in form and content was the precise opposite of Rotteck's 
writings. Dahlmann's work was as thoughtful and pithy as 
that of the Freiburg professor was thin and diffuse. Whereas 
Rotteck contested the validity of historic law, Dahlmann 
exhorted the Germans to realise fully the existence of their 
fathers in order to effect their own moral regeneration. Whilst 
Rotteck would tolerate monarchy only as a provisional institu- 
tion, Dahlmann frankly displayed his strictly monarchical 
inclinations, and declared, to the horror of the philologists, that 
the Greeks and the Romans had failed to recognise the moment 
when it would have been advantageous to adopt a monarchical 
system. He looked for his ideal of the state in England, not 
in France. " In England the foundations of the political organi- 
sation towards which all the neo-European nations are striving 
are most purely developed and preserved." Since Montesquieu's 
Esprit des Lois had found its way into Germany, vague praise 
of English liberty had indeed never been lacking. At this very 
moment Riickert made the returning spirit of freedom exclaim: 
" Oh, build for me a temple after Albion's example ! " But 
Dahlmann was the first among publicists who, with a thorough 
knowledge of his subject and without any desire for blind 
imitation, held up the English parliament as an example to 
Germany, just as Vincke shortly before had done with the 
British system of self-government. Such men as Niebuhr, 
Schleiermacher, and Thibaut, expressed their cheerful accord 
with the historian of Kiel, but it was many years before his 
ideas obtained wider support. The Kieler Blatter had little 
circulation outside Schleswig-Holstein, for the mass of the popu- 
lation of North Germany was oppressed by economic cares, 
while those in South Germany who might have been receptive 
to constitutional ideas preferred the more convenient catechism 
of Rotteck's rational law. 

Opposed to both these tendencies of liberalism, separated 
from them by the breadth of the heavens, was Carl Ludwig 
von Haller, the dreaded " restorer of political science." The 
Bernese aristocrat had seen the power of the Swiss patricians 
collapse amid the storms of the Revolution, and subsequently, 
as an exile in Austrian service, had constructed the political 
system which was " to re-establish monarchy upon its true 
foundations, to overthrow the presumptuous revolutionary science 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

of the godless eighteenth century, and to make the CathoHc 
church shine with renewed effulgence." With the proud con- 
sciousness of his claim to rank as a universal historian, he 
announced his doctrine, first of all in Allgemeine Staatskunde 
(1808), and subsequently, from 1816 onwards, in Restaur cUion 
der Staatswissenschaft. It seemed to him a wonderful dispensa- 
tion of Providence that from him in particular, the bom 
republican and Protestant, should proceed the anti-revolutionary 
doctrine of salvation. And indeed the sledge-hammer dialec- 
tical blows of his severe reasoning fell with crushing force 
upon the imaginative structures of the doctrine of natural rights. 
It was the incontrovertible demonstrations of this blustering 
naturalist which first shattered the belief in the state of nature, 
in the social contract, and in the innate sovereignty of the 
people, even in those circles of the uninstructed who were unable 
to follow the ideas of the historical school of law. Yet all that 
he advanced in place of this obsolete doctrine was a crude 
popularisation of the principles of patrimonial law upon which 
had been based the authority of the Bernese aristocracy. Just 
as in former days the rulers of Berne had treated the conquered 
subject lands of Aargau and Vaud simply as the property of 
their glorious republic, so Haller founded the state solely upon 
the right of the stronger. Land belongs to a prince, a corpora- 
tion, or a church ; upon this property of a suzerain lord, and 
under his protection, settlers appear ; if the people should 
disappear, the state would still continue to exist in the person 
of the prince, who can readily find new subjects. Consequently 
the state resembles any other association based on civil law, 
differing from others only because it is more powerful and indepen- 
dent, and because its prince is "an owner, a man equipped with 
absolutely independent rights " ; he rules the nation through 
the instrumentality of his personal servants, is entitled to regard 
(it is even his duty to regard) himself and his house as the 
principal aim for which the state exists, but he must resist the 
dispersion of his own property and must protect his subjects 
with his own soldiers. A caricature of the ancient feudal state, 
which even in the fourteenth century existed nowhere in such 
crudity as this, was now propounded as the universally valid 
poUtical ideal, was announced with the same air of infallibiUty 
that had characterised the writers who constructed the model 
imaginary constitutions of the Revolution. The subordination 
of the citizen, established by constitutional law, became degraded 


History of Germany 

to a state of servitude defined in terms of civil law. In a word, 
the restorer of political science practically abolished the state. 

Nowhere did his doctrine seem more utterly devoid of 
foundation, nowhere did it seem to conflict more hopelessly 
with facts, than in Prussia, for nowhere else had the majesty 
of the state-idea been esteemed so highly as in Prussia, where 
the princes had always been the first servants of the state. It 
was precisely upon this that depended Haller's fierce hatred of 
Frederick the Great, of that enlightened Prussian absolutism 
which had discovered the detestable conscription, and of the 
Allgenteines Landrecht [Prussian System of Common Law promul- 
gated in 1794]. " Except on the title-page," said Haller, 
" there is nothing to show that this system of laws may not 
be intended rather for Japan and China than for the Prussian 
state." Yet it was in Prussia that Haller secured numerous 
and powerful adherents. The crown prince and his romanticist 
friends considered that in the idea of the state as private 
property they could rediscover the motley glories of the 
middle ages. Marwitz and the feudalists among the knighthood 
of the Mark hailed with delight this resolute thinker who 
reduced | the monarch once more to the ranks of the land- 
owners, who divided society once again into the three castes 
of teachers, warriors, and manual workers, and assigned such 
valuable privileges to those " who had the freedom of the land." 
The absolutists found it satisfactory that in Haller's state the 
prince was above all the people. The ultramontanes were 
delighted with the praise of theocracy, which the convert had 
extolled as the freest and best of all political forms. The timid 
found their own fears confirmed by the complaints of the Bernese 
fanatic who imagined that the entire world was endangered by 
the great conspiracy of the freemasons, the illuminati, and the 
revolutionaries. To all opponents of the Revolution, the 
victorious polemic against natural rights was welcome. Whereas 
amid the simpler and wider relationships of French political 
life, the feudal and clerical party was already the open enemy 
of bureaucratic absolutism, in Germany all the aspects of the 
counter-revolution were still indistinguishably confused. 

l''ar less support was secured by the purely ultramontane 
political doctrine of the skilled sophist, Adam Miiller. The 
Roman Catholic system could not truly flourish in the homeland 
of heresy ; not one of our clerical authors could go so far as 
the Savoyard noble Joseph de Maistre, who, glowing with all 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

the ardour and religious fanaticism of the Latin races, demanded, 
now half jestingly and now again wrathfuUy, that the sinful 
world should be subjected to the pope, and who fiercely contested 
the " bestial " science of " the century of folly." The able 
German convert lacked this emotional impulse, this crusadering 
enthusiasm. Adam Miiller, with clear insight, descried indeed 
many of the weaknesses of liberalism, esjjecially in respect of 
its economic doctrines ; he showed incisively how inadequate 
was the system of laissez-faire amid the struggles of social 
interest, how impossible was the complete international division 
of labour between independent nations, and prophesied that 
from the modern economic system would proceed a new pluto- 
cratic nobility more contemptible and more dangerous than the 
old aristocracy of birth. But in his Theologische Grundlegung 
der Staatswissenschaft we find no more than a ref>etition of 
Haller's doctrines, adorned with some of the frippery of theology 
and natural philosophy. In a manner even more arbitrary than 
that of Haller, he artificially effected a " natural " classification 
of society, sometimes distinguishing the teachers, the warriors, 
and the manual workers as the respective representatives of 
faith, love, and hope, and sometimes classifying the population 
into nobles, burghers, and rulers. Miiller, Uke Haller, denied the 
distinction between constitutional law and civil law, and declared 
that every state must to all eternity be composed of a union 
of states. His ideal was a rational feudalism ; he hoped to 
solve the contradiction between politics and law by the power 
of faith, elevated to the rank of law. 

Thus everything which German political science had secured 
during the last century and a half, since Puffendorf had delivered 
our political thinkers from the yoke of the theologians, was once 
more put in question, and political doctrine was degraded anew 
to the level of the theocratic conceptions of the middle ages. 
Friedrich Schlegel hailed the church as the greatest of all guilds, 
after whose example all the other corporations of civil society 
should be reconstituted. Baader spoke of the teaching caste, 
the warrior caste, and the caste of manual workers, as the three 
orders of every nation, rejecting the expression " the state " 
as an impious modem discovery. " Corporation, not association," 
was the catchword of the poUtical romanticists, most of whom 
associated with this term no more than the indefinite conception 
of a debile state authority, limited by the power of guilds, diets 
of nobles, and self-governing communes, and in spiritual matters 


History of Germany 

subjected to the control of the church. The sober-minded Gentz 
felt utterly alien from this dream-world of politics as understood 
by theologians, and declared to his friend Miiller that everything 
characteristic of science — clearness, method, and consistency — 
was conspicuous by its absence. His secular sentiments were 
profoundly irritated when his friend asseverated that the peace 
of the. world was dependent upon belief in God's incarnation. 
It was only when he imagined that he could himself recognise 
the precursors of the imminent revolution, that in an access of 
nervous anxiety he wrote : " You are perfectly right, all is lost 
unless religion should become established pas seulement comme foi 
mais comme lot." But this contrite mood did not persist ; the 
first of German publicists stood on too lofty a plane to abandon 
for long his recognition of the secular nature of the state. 

An abyss of centuries seemed to be established between the 
romanticist theory of the state and the doctrines of liberalism. 
The great majority of writers of note, the superior advantages 
of scientific culture, seemed to be on the conservative side ; and 
yet liberalism, notwithstanding its youthful immaturity, displayed 
more understanding of the needs of the present, had a better 
grasp of the just claims of the middle classes whose strength 
was increasing. Those who endeavoured to intermediate between 
these crudely contrasted views earned only suspicion for 
their pains. Even Steffens was accused of being a reactionary 
because in his brilliant though confused political writings, whilst 
demanding representative institutions, he nevertheless, after his 
fantastical manner, explained that " the communion of saints " 
represented the idea of the state, and regarded the privileges of 
the nobility as founded upon "the mystical depths of all those 
bom of earth." To the patriots it seemed as if they were being 
mocked when the sanguine Steffens actually hailed as an advan- 
tage the feeble multiformity of the distracted political life of 
Germany, saying that every constitution was defective, and 
nothing but a plurality of constitutions could guarantee a higher 
spiritual unity ! Still less could Ancillon appease the angry 
spirits. His numerous works on poUtical science looked down 
with distinguished contempt upon the shallow worshippers of the 
Zeitgeist, and yet manifested such poverty of ideas as to make 
Rotteck's limpid clarity seem in comparison an outpouring of 
genius, whilst he displayed in addition a chameleon-like vagueness 
of thought and of expression in order to leave always open a 
way of retreat. When in profound humility he acclaimed the 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

Holy Alliance as the reconciliation between politics and ethics, 
or when with unctuous prolixity he showed that there was no 
essential difference between an advisory diet and one which 
possessed powers of independent action, the Uberals were all the 
more furious because they knew that the author, a cautious 
intermediary, was engaged at the Prussian court in the persistent 
support of the aims of the reactionary party. 

Even before the return of the victorious armies, a disagree- 
able incident, trifling in itself, had greatly accentuated political 
differences, poisoning for a long time to come that party life 
which was now for the first time awakening. For years the 
Napoleonic fables of the Tugendbund and of the Jacobin intrigues 
of the Prussian patriots had been busily circulated in the 
Hofburg and among the Rhenish Confederate cabinets. More- 
over, the well-disposed minor courts had been alarmed by the 
noisy terrorist language of the spokesmen of the Teutonising 
movement. All the governments felt insecure, realising how 
little the terms of peace and the federal act could satisfy the 
desires of the nation. In Prussia, the old opponents of Stein 
and of the Silesian headquarters-staff began once more to become 
active. As early as during the congress of Vienna a certain 
councillor named Janke endeavoured to arouse the suspicions of 
the chancellor on account of " the wild clamour for Uberty " 
which proceeded from Amdt and Gorres. When the monarchs 
were for the second time assembled in Paris, Schmalz, professor 
at Berlin, published a pamphlet entitled Berichiigung einer Stelle 
in der Bredow-Venturinischen Chronik vom Jahre 1808.^ The 
passage in question had been emended by the author years 
before at Schmalz's instigation, and the BerUn professor merely 
availed himself of this excuse as a text on which to hang 
stories about the old Tugendbund, and to give a sinister picture 
of the subterranean intrigues of the secret societies which 
" perchance " had issued from the Tugendbund. Schmalz was 
Scharnhorst's brother-in-law and had always lived on good terms 
with the general ; during the period of French dominion he had 
preserved his patriotic courage ; and he had taken a vigorous 
part in the foundation of the BerUn university. In his innu- 
merable writings on political science he displays a limited and 
hard inteUigence ; hating the ideas of the Revolution, he was 

^ Rectification of a Passage in the Bredow-Venturini Chronicle of the Year 



History of Germany 

yet unable to offer a scientific refutation of their foundation, 
the doctrine of natural rights. His reputation was hitherto 
unstained. What a scandal, when this highly respected patriot 
suddenly launched a long series of furious accusations against 
the new Germanism. Just as formeriy the Jacobins had held up 
before us the mirror of humanity, so now did these conspirators 
hold up the mirror of Teutonism to lead the people astray, 
to make us perjure ourselves in the endeavour to realise the 
insane notion of a single German nation. It was above all 
against Amdt, the most modest and moderate of the Teutonist 
orators that Schmalz directed his furious invectives. In his 
priceless Catechism for the German Landwehrmann Amdt had 
made use of the biblical phraseology : " Protect the defenceless 
and wives and children, for this is Christian and humane." 
From this Schmalz drew the conclusion that these reckless 
offenders " advocated murder, pillage, and rape, the last in 
express terms." Beyond question, as even the professor's 
opponents admitted, the unhappy man was acting in good faith. 

For the first time for three hundred years a genuinely 
national movement was manifest in the quiet land of North 
Germany ; the contemplation of all the elemental energies which 
are unchained in such a stormy epoch had obscured and 
bemused many a weak nature. Just as in England in the 
days of Charles II thousands of excellent persons were convinced 
of the reality of the purely fictitious popish plot, so now in 
Germany a gloomy delusion spread like a devastating pestilence, 
and it was not the base and the stupid alone who beUeved in 
the secret conspiracies of demagogic leagues. The malicious 
half-truths of the Schmalzian pamphlet were even more wound- 
ing than its manifest absurdities. In defiance of the literary 
sense of self-complacency, he declared that the mass of the 
nation had never read a line of the writings of the publicists. 
From the magnificent unpretentiousness of the Prussian nation, 
which performed colossal deeds as if they were a matter of 
course, the denunciator drew the conclusion that there had 
nowhere been any extraordinary enthusiasm, but that the 
Prussians had hastened to the colours in the spirit in which 
neighbours come to extinguish a fire. When Arndt's writing on 
Preussens rheinische Mark declared " Prussia must be everywhere, 
and Prussia's Germany everywhere," and when it named the 
state of the Hohenzollcrns the only (iennan kind capable of 
raising Germany from futihty to glory, these vague prophecies 


Mental Currents of the First Years of Peace 

seemed to the accuser sufficient proof of a deliberate design for 
the dethronement of all the minor German princes. 

The best men of the nation were moved to the soulj^when 
they saw the repute of the most splendid period of modem 
German history thus shamefully soiled. The book-market was 
flooded with rejoinders, and during the last months of the year 
1815 almost the whole of cultured Germany was breathlessly 
engaged in this wretched dispute. Even foreigners intervened. 
The Times took it upon itself to hold up obedient Hanover as 
an example to the unruly Prussians. Niebuhr and Schleier- 
macher refuted the pitiful attack, the former in a profoundly 
serious manner, the latter with unsparing ridicule. Some of 
the other rejoinders unquestionably displayed the bhnd self- 
conceit of youthful hberahsm. Ludwig Wieland, son of the poet, 
bluntly answered the defender of absolute monarchy in the 
words : " The representative system is the true method, and 
indeed the only method, which legally disposed and patriotic 
men can publicly recognise ! " Councillor Kappe in Aix-la- 
Chapelle, a distinguished Prussian official, confidently maintained 
that German unity could be secured by the taJisman-hke word 
" constitution," for, he said, " on all hands the national will is 
striving towards such unity, and all divergences therefrom are 
dependent upon the excessive power of governmental authority 
as contrasted with that of the popular will ! " 

These disputes came at a very inopportune moment for the 
king. Just before, when taking over the new provinces he had 
repeatedly declared that he was concerned solely with the future 
of the state, regarding the past as past. He had a keen, 
appreciation of all that he owed to the love and devotion of 
his Prussians, and confidentially assured the czar that he 
regarded it as his sacred duty to ensure the happiness of this 
oyal people. But the contemplation of the party struggles of 
e Parisians had disquieted him profoundly, and when he 
learned that the municipal representatives of BerUn had made 
the unheard-of proposal to subject the civic and defensive 
companies to the sole supervision of the municipality, he ordered 
the chancellor to take strict measures lest this party spirit which 
was unknown to the Prussian nation should gain the upper 
hand.i In the spring of 1816 he put an end to the Uterary 
dispute by an admirably conceived and amiably worded ordinance. 

1 King Frederick William to Czar Alexander, March, 1816. Cabii>et Order 
to Hardenberg, September i, 1815. Further details in Appendix IV. 


History of Germany 

The king publicly recognised that the same sentiments which 
had led to the formation of the old Tugendbund had in the year 
1813 animated the majority of the Prussian nation and had led 
to the salvation of the fatherland, but now, in time of peace, 
the effect of secret societies could not fail to be deleterious. 
The old prohibition of such societies was therefore renewed. 
The continuance of the dispute was prohibited, and an enquiry 
which Niebuhr and his friends had demanded for their own 
justification was refused as superfluous. The turmoil now sub- 
sided, but everyone felt that the bad seed sown by the accuser 
(who, at this juncture, was distinguished by a Prussian order and 
by one from Wiirtemberg) had not fallen upon perfectly sterile 
soil. — Such were the sentiments amid which the German princes 
and the German peoples entered the greatly desired epoch of 
peace. On one side there prevailed a tacit and causeless mood 
of suspicion ; on the other there existed a blind faith in the 
magic influence of constitutional political forms, a childlike 
confidence in the unerring wisdom of the people. Among the 
masses, finally, there predominated a profound longing for repose 
and peaceful labour., 




The world-empire had fallen, and upon its ruins there was 
re-established a peaceful society of states. The old system of 
European politics, which endeavoured by means of mutable 
alliances and counter-alliances to preserve a balance of power 
between the five leading states, did not, however, at first return. 
As Gentz said, all the nations of Europe now constituted a 
great union under the supervision of the four powers which had 
carried on the war against Napoleon and had just renewed their 
alliances in Paris. Through so many years of work, during the 
weary time of waiting and of suffering, had this saving alliance been 
brought into existence ; now in three terrible years of war it had 
stood the test. During their close and prolonged association, 
the monarchs and the leading statesmen had become accustomed 
to confidential personal intercourse, such as had hitherto been 
unprecedented among the crowned heads : they determined that 
in the future also they would consider all the great problems of 
European politics in personal interviews. The Quadruple Alliance 
regarded itself as the supreme court of justice of Europe ; 
considered that its first duty was to preserve from a breach 
>f the peace the new ordering of the society of states, and 
:onsequently that the great powers must exercise a common 
supervision over France, a country whose actions could not be 
:ounted upon, a focus of revolution and of wars. Whilst the 
European army of occupation, under the supreme command of 
Wellington, was to preserve order in France, the four ambassadors 
in Paris, meeting in regular conferences, were to deal with 
the current affairs of the great alliance, and to support the 
court of the Tuileries with their counsel ; in isolated cases the 
four even invited the due de Richelieu to join their deliberations. 
All the contentious problems which had resulted from the 

369 2 B 

History of Germany 

Viennese and Parisian negotiations, were referred to this con- 
ference of ambassadors ; it was only the unravelUng of the 
complex German territorial questions which was reserved for 
special discussion at Frankfort. 

Never before had the system of states constituted so firmly 
ordered a federal community. The protectorate of the four 
powers dominated Europe, less iorcibly than, but just as 
unrestrainedly as, formerly the will of Napoleon. The states 
of the second rank (in the diplomatic circles of the quadruple 
alliance, they were jestingly spoken of as les Sous-Allies) were 
completely excluded from all the affairs of high politics ; when 
the haughty Spanish court, which could not forget the days of 
Philip II, demanded admission to the Parisian conference of 
ambassadors, it was met with a brusque refusal, Prussia's nega- 
tive being the bluntest of all. Nowhere was the predominance 
of the four powers felt more painfully than in France. Although 
the French had no certain information regarding the extraordinary 
powers of the conference of ambassadors, in questions of national 
honour the instinct of the masses rarely goes altogether astray. 
The nation felt obscurely that its government was supervised by 
the foreign powers, and it was inspired with an overwhelming 
hatred for the " lord-proconsul," Wellington. It was impossible 
for the old royal regime to strike deep roots once more, for the 
very reason that it was regarded by the people as a foreign 
dominion. At the peace congress of Paris, Humboldt had 
declared that the Revolution would never come to an end if 
Europe were to take France under her guardianship. All too 
soon was the admonition justified. 

The four powers were at one in regarding the existence of 
the legitimate dynasty as a strong support of the newly-ordered 
society of states, and for this reason they treated the French 
court with an upright and careful benevolence. Hardly had 
the congress of Paris settled the question of the cession of 
territory, when Gneisenau, as early as October, 1815, began 
secret negotiations with the Tuileries. Accustomed in .poUtics, 
as on the battle-field, to choose his means with little circumspec- 
tion, he had in the days of the Saxon negotiations seriously 
considered whether Prussia might not be able to carry her claims 
through with the aid of the returned Napoleon. Now, once 
more, even an adventurous way seemed to him permissible, if 
only he could secure the aim of establishing on a firm founda- 
tion the new system of states. His negotiator, Major von 

a 370 

Opening of the German Bundestag 

Royer, a legitimist in Prussian service, went so far, with 
Hardenberg's approval, as to offer the due de Richelieu a secret 
alliance. Prussia, as France's nearest neighbour, was to pledge 
herself in case of a revolution to help the Bourbons with her 
entire miUtary force. The negotiations led to nothing, plainly 
because Frederick William ultimately hesitated to undertake 
such far-reaching and dangerous responsibiUties ; but they 
afforded sufficient proof that Prussia was determined to forget 
alike the intrigues of Talleyrand and all the other proofs of 
Bourbon ingratitude, and to hve on terms of friendship with 
her western neighbour.* 

The savage struggles of the French parties aroused all the 
more anxiety in the conference of ambassadors because the 
wealthy land recovered with wonderful rapidity from its 
economic struggles, and soon appeared capable of undertaking 
a new war. According to the irreconcilable opposition, France 
consisted of two nations, the conquerors and the conquered of 
Waterloo. Where was to be found any common platform for 
the democratic masses, intoxicated by the glories of the world- 
ruling tricolour, and the emigres, these " pilgrims to the shrine," 
who dreamed of the orifiamme and St. Louis ? Mockingly did 
B^ranger exhibit to the old nobiUty the image of the 
Marquis de Carabas ; his satirical song, " C'est le roi, le roi, le 
roi," held kingship up to contempt. The whole country was 
covered with a network of secret societies ; every veteran of 
the grande armee who returned to his native village preached 
the Napoleonic legend. Even the talented doctrinaires who 
expressed their liberal views in the Minerve, undermined the 
prestige of the crown by a malicious mistrust. Yet more 
dangerous than the passion of the opposition seemed the fanatical 
infatuation of the royalist ultras who ruled the chamber of 
deputies. The hotspurs of the Chamhre introuvable were aiming 
directly at the restoration of the ancient feudal order ; they 
H demanded a sanguinary revenge against the regicides and the 
H murderers of God. When King Louis endeavoured to moderate 
^ftthe savage zeal of the emigres, they too turned against the 


* Information gathered from Royer's letters to Gneisenau. October 3, 1815, 
and subsequent dates, kindly communicated to me by Dr. H. Delbriick. The 
reason for the failure of the negotiations was not expressly given in the letters, 
but can hardly have been other than that suggested in the text. On November 9. 
Royer reports that King Frederick William must now be let into the secret, since 
everything depends upon his decision ; whilst a few days later, the whole afiEair 
vanishes from the correspondence. 

History of Germany 

once exclaimed to their King Sigismund, rege sed non impera! 
The feudal ideas of unbridled licence for the nobles reappeared, 
adorned with the catchwords of the new parliamentary doctrine. 
In the name of constitutional freedom, Chateaubriand demanded 
that the crown should be subordinated to the will of the 
chambers, and in his writings he already advocated that revolu- 
tionary theory of parliamentarism which the liberals subsequently 
made their own, epitomised in the words, le rot regne, mats il 
ne gouverne pas. 

All the members of the conference of ambassadors, led by 
Pozzo di Borgo, supported the king in his resistance of the 
ultras. Even the high tory English statesmen disapproved of 
the partisan fury of the emigres, although the liberal zeal of the 
" Jacobin " czar and of his obtrusive ambassador always 
remained suspicious to them. When Wellington contemplated 
the insane activities of the ultras, who received their instruc- 
tions in the Pavilion Marsan from the comte d'Artois, he said 
with concern that the offspring of Louis XV would not be able 
to rule France, and that for this Artois would be to blame ! 
Mettemich wrote wamingly : " The return to a past order of 
affairs constitutes one of the greatest dangers for a state which 
has come into existence out of a revolution." Subsequently 
he allowed the uneasy exclamation to escape him : " The 
legitimists are legitimising the Revolution." The Prussian 
ambassador, von der Goltz, an old member of Blucher's head- 
quarters-staff, displayed himself a diplomat of worthy conduct 
and sound judgment ; he was never weary of warning his court 
concerning the suicidal party-rage of the royaUsts. The result 
was that Hardenberg declared, as early as March, 1816, that 
the established order in France could be secured only by the 
dissolution of the Chambre introuvahle. The other three powers 
hesitated at first to recommend so bold a measure to the 
Tuileries. But when the infatuation of the ultras remained 
incurable, King Louis at length plucked up courage. On 
September 5th the dissolution was effected, amid general rejoic- 
ing ; the elections returned the moderate parties in a majority, 
and the Richelieu-Decazes ministry was on tolerable terms with 
the new chamber. Henceforward the four powers began to 
contemplate the future of France with somewhat more con- 
fidence. In a note of February 10, 181 7, they informed the 
due de Richelieu that his oft-repeated request for a diminution 
of the burden of the military occupation could not be acceded 


Opening of the German Bundestag 

to, and that Wellington's army was to be reduced by one-fifth, 
by 30,000 men ; but they did not refrain from adding that 
the praiseworthy principles of the duke and his colleagues had 
contributed greatly to this resolve. So profoundly was proud 
France humiUated : her first minister had to accept the formal 
praise of the high council of Europe. 

It soon became apparent that the independence of modem 
states cannot permanently endure so intimate a community as 
had been established by the Quadruple AlHance. The old con- 
trast between Russian and Austro-EngUsh policy continually 
recurred, and Czar Alexander did all he could to increase the 
suspicion of the courts of Vienna and of London. Without 
consulting his allies, in February, 1816, he pubhshed the charter 
of the Holy AUiance ; the world was to admire him, him alone, 
as the saviour and the leader of aUied Europe. Whilst the 
other powers reduced their armaments, the Russian army was 
increased, and in serried masses was moved nearer to the frontier. 
The czar took delight in exaggerated descriptions of Russian 
military power, and notwithstanding the experiences of the last 
campaigns, this power was, in fact, incredibly overestimated by 
everyone ; even Gneisenau beUeved that Russia had more than 
a million soldiers at her disposal, and that she was in a position 
to begin a war of offence with the immediate use of 500,000 
men. Metternich anxiously declared that the burden of these 
armaments, and his orthodox enthusiasm, might readily mislead 
the czar into warUke adventures ; the Austrian minister beUeved 
that everywhere, in France and Spain, in Italy and Turkey, he 
came upon traces of the secret intrigues of Russian agents.* 
This restless, ambitious policy sailed under the hberal flag ! In 
all the courts the Russian ambassador put in a plea for a 
system of " wise freedom," whilst the English ambassadors were 
just as zealous in the issue of warnings against the " dangerous 
folly " of liberal attempts at a constitution. In Poland, 
Alexander promulgated a constitution at Christmas in 1815. 
Although this fundamental law made no important alterations 
the cancer of Polish affairs or in the enslavement of the 
ountry-folk, and although it placed all pohtical power in the 
hands of the nobility, nevertheless the name of constitution 
exercised its magic charm. Uncritical liberals triumphantly 
acclaimed the gracious gift of the czar, and asked impatiently 

^ Krusemark's Reports, dated February 24, 1816, February i and March 
23, 1817, March 7 and April 9, 1818. 


History of Germany 

when Germany's princes were going to follow the example of 
the enlightened autocrat, who was secretly preparing a charter 
even for Russia herself. Of the two statesmen whom the czar 
consulted in foreign affairs, the insignificant Nesselrode remained 
devoted to his friend Mettemich ; all the more suspicious, 
therefore, to the court of Vienna seemed the liberal philhellene 
Capodistrias. The Austrian general Steigentesch soon found 
himself in just as painful a situation at St. Petersburg as was 
the Russian ambassador Stackelberg at Vienna. Caveat consul I 
was the continual exclamation in Stackelberg' s reports ; in 
alarmed phrases he warned his imperial master against the 
cunning of these Viennese " Dalai-Lama." The secret compact of 
January 3, 1815, remained unforgotten in St. Petersburg, and 
the chief blame in this matter was ascribed to Prince Metter- 
nich by all Russian statesmen. 

The profound mistrust of the tory cabinet for the czar 
was plainly shown in a proposal which in August, 1816, 
Lord Cathcart transmitted to the court of St. Petersburg. A 
conference of officers was to assemble, to consult about a simul- 
taneous reduction of armaments on the part of all the powers, and 
to prescribe to each state the strength of its peace army. It was 
unmistakable that this pacific proposal was directed against the 
Russian armaments. Hence Mettemich eagerly accepted the sug- 
gestion, and rejoined, with a friendly side-thrust at the Prussian 
army, that the diminution of armies was especially desirable in a 
period " in which even revolutionaries assume a military mask." 
Alexander gave a sympathetic but non-committal answer. 
The English proposal was shelved, for it was felt that so 
unnatural a limitation of the most important suzerain right of 
independent states could not seriously be carried into effect. 
Prussia, in especial, could never allow the extent of her national 
army to depend upon the preferences of powerful neighbours.^ 
Meanwhile at the Austrian court anxiety grew from month to 
month, and at the new year of 1818 Mettemich directly pro- 
posed to privy-councillor von Jordan, Hardenberg's confidant, 
who was in Vienna at the time upon the affairs of the Germanic 
Federation, that Pmssia should conclude with Austria a secret 
defensive alliance, in case of a Russian attack. Hardenberg 
was immediately prepared to accede to this idea, for to him 

* Memorial of the English government upon the European situation; Mettcr- 
nich's Apetfu sur It mdmoire anglais. (Sent to Hardenberg by Kruscmark in 
August and October, 1816.) 


Opening of the German Bundestag 

the friendship of Austria outweighed all other considerations. 
The king, however, refused. Why should Prussia abandon her 
old ally (who, besides, had already penetrated the secret designs 
of Metternich) on account of the indefinite fears of the Hofburg ? 
The chancellor was profoundly displeased by this refusal ; in his 
opinionated way he believed that Frederick William was once 
more playing a part similar to that which he had played in the 
tragical epoch of 1805. Vainly did he appeal for aid to Prince 
Wittgenstein, who was an unconditional adherent of Austria ; 
vainly did he complain that his royal master displayed so little 
confidence. The monarch held firm, and on May 2nd Harden- 
berg was forced to refuse the Austrian offer.' 

The English court was especially suspicious regarding the 
many-sided activities of Russian diplomacy in Spain. Here, as 
in France, the four powers were earnestly endeavouring to keep 
the re-established monarchy within bounds, in so far as their 
regard for the irritable Spanish national pride rendered this 
possible. They all felt how greatly the common cause of the 
European restoration was being damaged by the sins of King 
Ferdinand. The whole liberal world was in an uproar, and 
Byron wrote flaming verses against the CathoUc Moloch, when 
the most profligate of the European princes re-established the 
inquisition immediately after his return, when he visited horrible 
punishments upon the heroes of that national war which had 
restored the Bourbon throne, when from the ranks of his 
monkish adherents the insane cry arose, " Long Uve chains, long 
live oppression, long live King Ferdinand, death to the nation ! " 
But whilst all the powers were united in condemning the 
Spanish government, Russia at the same time endeavoured to 
undermine the position of power which England had acquired 
in the peninsula during the war of independence. The Russian 
ambassador, Tatischtschew, gradually acquired in Madrid even 
greater influence than Pozzo di Borgo enjoyed in Paris. It was 
soon observed that Russia desired the renewal of the old Bourbon 
family-treaty, in order to be able to employ against England 
the naval power of the two crowns. The unwearied Russian 
patron at length went so far as to sell a portion of his own 
fleet to Spain, and demanded that by common intervention 
the European powers should reconcile the revolted South 
American colonies with the Spanish motherland. All the 
powers rejected this adventurous proposal ; England and Austria 
* Hardenberg's Diary, January 14, March 12, May 2, 1818. 


History of Germany 

observed the Mediterranean policy of the czar with anxiety, an 
anxiety which was all the more lively because new disturbances 
were now threatening in the Balkan peninsula. 

How often did Mettemich complain that his " best and 
firmest ally," Turkey, remained the only state in Europe which 
could not secure recognition from the great powers. Through 
slothful arrogance, the Porte had refrained from demanding from 
Europe a guarantee for her territorial dominion ; now, by the 
conclusion of the Holy Alliance, she found herself formally 
excluded from the society of European states. The hatred of 
the Mohammedans against the Giaours flamed up powerfully 
once more ; Sultan Mahmud intentionally left certain articles 
of the treaty of Bucharest unfulfilled, and confidently awaited 
the reopening of the Russian war.^ Meanwhile the inevitable 
rising of the unhappy Rayahs had already begun. The Serbs 
would not lay down their arms, and, under the leadership of 
Milosch, acquired the status of a semi-independent Christian 
national community whose very existence conflicted with the 
fundamental idea of the Ottoman empire ; envoys from the 
dissatisfied Greeks assembled in St. Petersburg, and had a 
friendly reception from Capodistrias. Neither in London nor in 
Vienna was there any recognition of the inevitability of the 
wars of independence which were here preparing. In the circles 
of the high tories, the maintenance of Turkey was absolutely an 
article of political faith, especially since English interests in the 
east seemed to have been safeguarded by the aquirement of the 
Ionian islands. Notwithstanding all reasons to the contrary, 
people still apjjealed to the saying of Pitt, who declared that 
he would not talk politics with a man who did not regard the 
maintenance of the Porte as essential. Mettemich, in his turn, 
unhesitatingly applied to the foreign dominion of the Turks his 
doctrine of the inviolable rights of legitimate authority